<< Previous | 2 of 4 | Next >>

Regular Columns

Never never land

From an English perspective, American industrial might is something to be admired. But America’s giant carmaker General Motors (GM) is in serious trouble. A Peter Pan-like fantasy of forever extendable ‘financing’, or living on ‘the never never’, is taking its toll.

Letter from America Josh Moody

Detroit has long been the centre of the American auto industry; now, however, various factors are combining to make profitability in the Detroit area hard to find. One of the parts suppliers for GM, once itself a part of the GM group, is close to bankruptcy, an issue which will radically affect the profit margin of GM, through delayed or cancelled orders. In terms of business systems, several different issues seem to be involved. To begin with, the global economy, in particular cheap labour and parts from the East, are undercutting the American auto industry’s ability to maintain its market share. GM’s share of cars bought in the US has been slipping for sometime. Also, however, there appear to be archaic, and inevitably unprofitable, expectations in terms of salary from the workers. The much-vilified new president of the parts supplier quipped in one public speech that it was no longer economically feasible to pay $65 per hour for someone to mow the lawns.