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Detroit’s Big Three Struggle to Adapt to Rapidly Changing Global Auto Market

Management shake-up at Ford not likely to be the last big announcement from the Motor City this year.

by on May.22, 2017

Ford CEO Fields won't be the last Detroit exec trying to figure out how to address changes coming.

The unexpected ouster of Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields comes as one of the biggest shake-ups Detroit’s Big Three have experienced since they emerged from the Great Recession – and it highlights the challenges they face trying to adapt to a global transformation in what automakers build and how they market those products.

The appointment of Jim Hackett to replace Fields is, however, just the latest in a series of big announcements from Detroit that last week saw Ford announce plans to cut 1,400 salaried workers in North America and Europe, while General Motors said it would stop selling cars in the huge Indian market and sell off operations in South Africa.

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“As the (Detroit) Big Three look out at the landscape, they see dramatic changes coming in the concept of mobility,” says Joe Phillippi, a veteran Wall Street auto analyst and now the lead at AutoTrends Consulting. “They are desperately trying to figure out the future business model and how they will fit in.”


GM Continues Global Retrenchment; Halting Sales in India, South Africa

Profitability the key goal, not sales, for CEO Barra.

by on May.18, 2017

The Indian automotive market has mushroomed, but GM determined it wouldn't be profitable to remain there.

Long the global automotive leader, General Motors is ramping up its strategy of retrenchment, CEO Mary Barra ordering it to stop selling vehicles in both India and South Africa, as well as the countries in East Africa.

The early Thursday announcement follows earlier moves by Barra, who became the industry’s first female chief executive in January 2014. She pulled out of Russia a year ago and, in March of this year, announced that GM would sell off its long-troubled European Opel/Vauxhall operations to France’s PSA.

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“As the industry continues to change, we are transforming our business, establishing GM as a more focused and disciplined company,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are committed to deploying capital to higher return initiatives that will enable us to lead in our core business and in the future of personal mobility”


Barra Leads GM Trip Exploring Growth in India

Maker searching for ways to avoid pitfalls.

by on Sep.12, 2014

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and GM India Managing Director Arvind Saxena roll out the first Chevrolet Beat for export from the GM Talegaon manufacturing facility in India.

For the world’s automakers, India is a land of unlimited potential. It has a large, well-educated and growing middle-class with an entrepreneurial tradition and a dynamic culture that has spread its influence around the world.

General Motors certainly is no exception when it comes to its interest in India. In fact, Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, and several board members traveled to the country to gain more insight into how the automaker can avoid the pitfalls other automakers have experienced.

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The auto industry in India has been hobbled by seeming intractable infrastructure problems that have limited the attraction of automobiles despite the rising incomes from India’s proficient tech culture. (more…)

GM Global Engine Development Chief Forced Out

Winegarden “retires;” GM fires workers over faked emissions tests.

by on Jul.29, 2013

GM could face wider problems due to a scandal in which employees cheated on emissions testing with the Chevrolet Tavera.

General Motors confirmed it has fired several employees while the maker’s global engine development chief, Sam Winegarden is “retiring” in the wake of faulty emissions tests that violated company policy.

It’s the latest in a series of departures linked to violations of company policy including last year’s unceremonious ouster of global marketing chief Joel Ewanick and, just this month, the firing of Cadillac’s top sales and service executive Chase Hawkins.

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The latest scandal was triggered by an internal investigation into the recall of a sport-utility in India which uncovered violations of company policy, the automaker said. The cheating scandal could cause extensive problems for GM in India and other parts of the world for quite some time.


GM Facing Labor Crisis in India

Plant management looking to replace striking workers.

by on Apr.08, 2011

Worker pushing a trolley at a GM Halol plant.

Seems like General Motors can’t run from labor unrest.

Some 1,600 workers have struck at the GM Halol plant in India, which produces Cruze and Aveo vehicles.

Workers paid 47 to 92 cents an hour are claiming they have been shortchanged on their overtime pay and that more than 269 workers have suffered spinal cord injuries due to unsafe working conditions.

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Meanwhile, GM’s local plant management has unilaterally imposed a mandatory 20 percent increase in daily production goals, which labor advocates claim will only result in more work injuries.  Managers reportedly also are attempting to replace strikers with non-union replacement workers.

So far, the workers have been out on strike for three weeks. They want their Gujarat Kamdar Mandal union recognized with a collective contract so workers finally have a voice.