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GM Losing Two Key Executives

Tech chief Stephens retiring, by Korean CEO Arcamone switches careers.

by on Jan.16, 2012

GM V.Chairman and chief tech officer Tom Stephens will retire in April, one of two key GM executives announcing their departure.

The last of General Motors’ old guard is stepping down, Chief Technology Officer Tom Stephens announcing he’ll retire in April. But the American giant is also losing the head of its strong South Korean unit, Mike Arcamone revealing he will leave the auto industry for a new career in aerospace.

The departure of GM Vice Chairman Stephens is no surprise, considering he spent 43 years with the Detroit maker.  Stephens was the only senior executive left at GM from the ranks of top managers in place prior to the company’s 2009 bankruptcy.

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The 63-year-old Stephens had served in a variety of roles since joining GM as a co-op student in 1969.  He was considered a driving force behind a variety of engineering changes at the maker, including one of GM’s first serious efforts to introduce lean manufacturing at a Cadillac engine plant in the mid-1980s.


GM Reverses Course; Will Offer U.S. Diesel Sedan

Oil burners appear to be regaining momentum.

by on Sep.28, 2010

A GM diesel sedan is reportedly in the works.

They’ve become the engine of choice for European motorists and now, it appears, momentum is finally building to bring diesels into the American mainstream, as well.

Reversing its long-held position that diesels don’t make sense in the U.S. except on heavy-duty trucks, General Motors’ product czar says the maker is planning to develop a diesel-powered sedan for Stateside buyers.

GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens wouldn’t say much else during a speech to the Directions in Engine-Efficiency and Emissions Research, or DEER, conference.  But he did note that there are plenty of diesels to draw from using technology developed by the maker’s European subsidiary, Opel AG.

Burning the Midnight Oil!

Stephens predecessor, now-retired V. Chairman Bob Lutz, had repeatedly vetoed the idea of an American diesel insisting that the technology was already too costly and would grow even more expensive in light of next-generation diesel emissions regulations.


Build Your Own Corvette Engine Option Added

Unique program lets customers create the heart of their 'Vette.

by on Jul.12, 2010

Rich McBride at the GM Performance Build Center is one of the technicians who will supervise customers in the assembly of their own Corvette engines.

In what is likely the world’s most hands-on super car program, customers who order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 can choose an option to help assemble their cars’ LS7 or LS9 engine at the General Motors’ Performance Build Center (PBC) in Wixom, Michigan.

This latest and innovative marketing program, called the Corvette Engine Build Experience, was announced this morning.

The Engine Build Experience is an option with a suggested retail price of $5,800. Yes, you pay more to get your hands dirty by helping to assemble your $100,000 ‘Vette – as I said there’s marketing genius here.

When a customer selects the PBC option for a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 and the dealer submits the order to Chevrolet, a special concierge contacts the customer to verify participation and help coordinate arrangements.

While travel arrangements to and from Detroit are the customer’s responsibility, the Chevrolet concierge helps schedule the engine build; coordinates the customer’s activities at the Performance Build Center; assists with booking local lodging and meals, and arranges local transportation.

“In a way, this is a dream program for a Corvette customer. I would have jumped at the chance to build the 427 in my ’67 ’Vette, and that didn’t have half of what goes into one of these modern precision engines,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman, Global Product Operations.

“Today’s LS7 and Corvette engines are pinnacle achievements in engineering, and to personally involve our customers in their final creation shows the depth of Chevrolet’s commitment to make lasting connections with the customer,” said Stephens.

Hands On Coverage!

At the PBC, the customer does not view the engine’s assembly – he or she builds it under the supervision of and support from skilled – and presumably very patient – technicians. When the engine is assembled, a personalized nameplate is added to the engine next to the builder’s name. It is then sent to the Corvette assembly plant for installation in the customer’s car.


GM Global Business Conference Reveals Little New

It is mostly a rehash of previously available info as a run up to an impending IPO. But two key things emerged for taxpayers.

by on Jun.29, 2010

The man whose product development team will ultimately pay back the taxpayer debtors?

General Motors Company today hosted a group of 200 members of the financial community and other stakeholders during a Global Business Conference at its Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

The event was the first of its kind since the debut of the new company in July 2009 when it emerged from bankruptcy as a taxpayer-owned private firm and former ATT telephone executive Ed Whitacre took over as Chairman.

The conference had all the appearances of a hastily arrange public relations event that was likely constrained in content by an impending filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to take the taxpayer held company public.

Once GM files, it will be subject to a “blackout period” on such events until its public offering is complete – a process that is largely outside of GM’s control. Such a filing could come as early as next month when second quarter earnings become available, which the best companies do within weeks of closing, if not sooner.

GM had revenue of $31.5 billion and operating income of $1.2 billion during the first quarter of 2010. GM’s net income attributable to common stockholders was $865 million, resulting in earnings per share on a diluted basis of $1.66. It was the first quarterly profit at the company since 2007, and a necessary prelude to an initial public offering or IPO.

The conference featured a review of GM’s global business, with updates by Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, Vice Chairman Steve Girsky, Vice Chairman and CFO, Chris Liddell, and GM’s regional presidents. Vice Chairman of Global Product Operations Tom Stephens provided a review of GM’s global product portfolio, and an early preview of some upcoming products, including the next versions of the Opel Insignia, Chevrolet Malibu, and Cadillac CTS.

Most of it was boilerplate and platitudes, which if bottled could prove to be a great benefit to insomniacs.

Informed Opinion!

However, two things were notable for close followers of the company. One concerned finance, while the other dealt with product development – two areas that need to work together better than previously if GM is to survive the ongoing “take no prisoners car wars.”