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Ford Brings Wall Street Veteran Casesa in as Global Strategy Chief

Well-respected analyst “knows the auto industry inside and out."

by on Feb.17, 2015

Long-time automotive analyst John Casesa will be Ford's new global strategy chief.

Ford Motor Co. is turning to a long-time industry-watcher, veteran Wall Street analyst John Casesa, who will become the automaker’s chief global strategist.

The 52-year-old Casesa will oversee corporate and business development efforts and report directly to CEO Mark Fields, the automaker announced this morning. Casesa becomes the second Wall Street insider in recent years to take a senior strategic position at one of the Detroit carmakers.

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“John knows business and the auto industry inside and out,” said CEO Fields in a statement announcing Casesa’s appointment. “His deep experience and relationships will help guide and shape our global strategies – particularly as we challenge today’s business model and push to innovate to make us even stronger tomorrow.” (more…)

Akerson Retiring, Barra Becomes New GM CEO, with Ammann President

51-year-old Barra is industry’s first woman chief executive.

by on Dec.10, 2013

GM names Barra its new CEO - and the first woman to lead a global automaker.

Just a day after the federal government ended its ownership stake in the post-bankruptcy General Motors, the automaker has announced a sweeping change in its management line-up.  That includes the retirement of Chairman and Chief Executive Dan Akerson, with Mary Barra taking his place as CEO of January 15, 2014.

The well-respected Barra, currently GM’s global product development czar, will become the first woman to serve as the chief executive officer of any major auto manufacturer in the world.

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Her new second-in-command will be Dan Ammann, a New Zealand native who signed on as GM chief financial officer after assisting the maker through its 2009 bankruptcy.

“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,”  Akerson said in a message to the maker’s 85,500 employees.


Tesla Lands on GM’s Radar

Detroit giant hopes to learn from upstart battery-carmaker.

by on Jul.19, 2013

What can GM learn from Tesla and its brash young founder and Chairman Elon Musk?

General Motors has confirmed the company’s Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson has commissioned a study of Tesla Motors, the upstart electric carmaker from Silicon Valley that has countered the generally weak market for battery cars by exceeding its sales forecasts this year.

According to GM vice chairman Steve Girsky, GM wants to be sure that Tesla doesn’t leave it behind in the field of automobile innovation. The start-up maker has generated almost universal raves for its Model S battery sedan and while it’s stock has taken some hits in recent days, Tesla shares are still up about 450% over the company’s 52-week low – and trading at more than three times higher than GM.

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The decision to study, rather than write off, Tesla reflects a very different attitude at General Motors since its 2009 emergence from bankruptcy, Girsky said during an interview on Bloomberg TV. “In the old days, they would’ve said, ‘It’s a bunch of laptop batteries and don’t worry about it and blah, blah, blah,’” Girsky said.


GM, Honda Launch Fuel Cell Partnership

Partners aiming for mass market-ready hydrogen cars by 2020.

by on Jul.02, 2013

GM is testing the viability of its hydrogen-powered Equinox prototype as part of a Hawaiian pilot program.

The following story has been updated with the latest developments.

General Motors and Honda plan to team up in an effort to bring zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell technology to the mass market by the end of the decade, the makers formally announced Tuesday morning.

Both GM and Honda have already begun fielding small test fleets of hydrogen-powered vehicles – as have a number of competitors including Toyota and Mercedes-Benz – but the goal of the new effort is to help solve nagging technical obstacles while driving costs down to mass-market levels. The makers also hope that by making a serious commitment to fuel cell technology they will encourage the energy industry to expand the availability of hydrogen, something essential to encourage consumer acceptance.

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“The widespread use of future fuel cell vehicles requires a significant advance in cost reduction… and in the refueling infrastructure that will support them,” Tetsuo Iwamura, president of American Honda Motor Co., said during a joint news conference in New York City.  “Two companies can do more together than the simple sum of our individual efforts.”


Opel Speeds Up Restructuring, Will Close German Plant Early

GM takes advantage of union misstep.

by on Apr.19, 2013

An Opel Zafira body moves along the line at the Bochum assembly plant.

General Motors’ long-troubled Opel subsidiary plans to close an unneeded plant in Bochum, Germany by the end of 2014, a move that will come several years ahead of its original plan thanks to a major misstep by the powerful metalworkers union IG Metall.

The move could be critical as Opel moves to speed up a broad restructuring strategy aimed at capping what is likely to be a 15th year of massive losses that have led some analysts to call on GM to close or sell off its European operations.

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Opel is just one of a number of European makers aiming to rein in excess capacity at a time when the Continental auto market has sunk to its lowest level in decades – Ford, for example, will shutter two British facilities and a larger plant in Belgium in 2014. But the closure of Bochum, where 3,000 are currently employed producing models like the Zafira van, would mark the first time a major auto plant has been shuttered in Germany since the end of World War II.


GM Investing $5.2 bil in Opel Turnaround

"Opel is key to our access," asserts CEO Akerson.

by on Apr.10, 2013

Opel continues to struggle for a turnaround.

General Motors plans to pump €4 billion into its struggling Opel subsidiary over the next three years in a bid to finally reverse 13 years of losses that have led some skeptics to call on the American maker to sell or shutter the German-based operation.

The move, worth $5.2 billion, approved by the GM board on Wednesday, is meant to show that Opel has the maker’s “full support,” declared Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, who emphasized his belief that “Opel is a key to our success.”

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Following a meeting of the GM board at Opel headquarters in Russelsheim, Akerson declined to provide details of what the money will be used for, though the German subsidiary has been racing to streamline its bloated operations even while adding an array of new products such as the Opel Adam and Mokka models that have been among its few recent successes.


Opel Cascada Anchors “10-Year Action Plan”

GM’s new European boss puts in first appearance.

by on Mar.08, 2013

New Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann and the Opel Cascada convertible.

General Motors can only hope it gets a warm reception for the new Opel Cascada convertible making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week, as it anchors the maker’s crucial “10-Year action plan.”

The past decade hasn’t been a very good one for Opel, which has plunged in sales and market share, helping GM run up European losses of $18 billion since plunging into the red there in 1999. Steve Girsky, the General Motors Vice Chairman who was put in charge of devising the action plan formally handed the reins over to GM Europe’s new boss, Karl-Thomas Neumann, during the Opel news conference.

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“My goal is to steer Opel back to its former strength and glory,” declared Neumann, who previously served in a senior management role at GM’s arch-rival Volkswagen AG. And the key to that, he said, was the plan formally known as “Drive 2022.”

While there are a variety of cost-cutting measures in the program, the crucial piece is the launch of new products, such as the new Cascada and the recently introduced Opel Adam. In all, the maker intends to launch 23 new vehicles and 13 new powertrain packages over the next five years alone.


GM Delivers $4.9 Billion Profit – But Falls Short of Expectations

Market reacts cautiously. But workers have reason to celebrate.

by on Feb.14, 2013

GM Chairman Dan Akerson saw the positive side of the maker's 2012 earnings.

General Motors earnings took a sharp downturn in 2012, falling to $4.9 billion, or $2.92 a share, compared to $7.6 billion, or $4.58 a share, the year before. The maker blamed “unfavorable” special items, but the decline also reflected GM’s ongoing struggles to reverse 13 years of red ink from its floundering European operations.

The largest of the U.S. automakers said fourth-quarter net income came to $0.9 billion, an increase from the $500 million it reported during the October to December period in 2011, per-share results rising to 48-cents, a 9-cent year-over-year increase.

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Nonetheless, the fourth-quarter numbers fell short of the 51-cent consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters, triggering a negative response from investors during early trading.

Despite that tepid reaction, GM officials were upbeat.  “We recorded another solid year in 2012 as we grew the business, delivered a third straight year of profitability and took significant actions to put the company on a solid path for future growth,” said Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO.


GM Snatches New European Chief from VW

Neumann will be pressed to pick up the pace of cuts.

by on Feb.01, 2013

New GM Europe chief Karl-Thomas Neumann.

General Motors has recruited a former Volkswagen executive to run its beleaguered European operations, which have fallen ever deeper into the red for 13 consecutive years.

Karl-Thomas Neumann was named president of GM Europe, chairman of the management board of GM’s Germany-based Adam Opel AG and GM vice president. He was most recently CEO of Volkswagen’s flourishing China division.

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The 51-year-old industry veteran will be given the unenviable task of righting an operation that has run up billions of dollars in losses and largely squandered its once solid reputation in Germany and the rest of the European market. GM has confirmed it will have lost as much as $1.8 billion in Europe once final numbers are tallied for 2012.


GM Steps Up European Restructuring

Sells off French plant.

by on Jan.02, 2013

GM V. Chairman Steve Girsky continues to move forward on the European turnaround effort.

General Motors has reached an agreement that will step up the pace of the restructuring of its European operations by selling off the GM Powertrain operation in Strasbourg, France.

The plant is being sold to Punch Metals International, a private-equity company controlled by the industrial investor Guido Dumarey. Terms of the deal were not spelled out but GM stressed the company’s responsibility vis-as-vis its employees and community.

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Adam Opel AG, GM’s principal subsidiary in Europe, announced plans to close an assembly plant in Bochum, Germany next year. It’s one of the more aggressive steps in a desperate turnaround plan put together by GM vice Chairman Steve Girsky who has been charged with reversing more than a decade of severe losses at GM Europe — the maker recently forecasting it would post another deficit of as much as $1.4 billion in Europe for 2012.