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GM Goes to War

"War room" strategy could push GM past Toyota in 2011.

by on Apr.27, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with the now-delayed Prius V.

General Motors has gone to war.  Struggling to avoid the sort of parts shortage problems crippling its Japanese rivals, the maker has assigned several hundred managers to three “war rooms,” in Detroit, Tokyo and Shanghai, with the aim of keeping its assembly lines stocked and running.

That’s no easy task in the wake of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear plant disasters that all but shut down the Japanese auto industry for more than a month.  Toyota alone lost about 542,000 units of production in March, it revealed this week, and the global sales leader does not expect to have its worldwide production network back up and running at full speed until November or December.

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Toyota is by no means alone, the March disaster hitting hard all of the Japanese automakers – and impacting virtually all major car companies worldwide to at least some degree.  GM, in fact, was forced to briefly close a plant in Louisiana, with two European plants also affected.  But the maker is working hard to ensure even worse problem don’t develop.  And if it can keep things running reasonably smoothly, industry analysts say GM will likely end 2011 as the global sales leader, a title it lost three years ago, shortly before its bankruptcy.

“The war rooms stay in touch around the clock and have the authority to move parts around as needed,” explained Tim Lee, head of GM International Operations.


Toyota Aiming for 10 Mil Sales, Focusing on Emerging Markets

“Global Vision” includes big management shake-up.

by on Mar.09, 2011

Toyota President Akio Toyoda wants to boost global sales 20% by focusing on emerging markets.

Toyota is aiming to be the first automaker ever to hit the 10 million sales mark by 2015 – which would be a 20% jump from 2010 – by focusing on China and other emerging markets.

That aggressive goal was outlined by President Akio Toyoda as he laid out the maker’s “Global Vision,” an expansive plan that will also result in a sharp cutback in senior management ranks, a move apparently aimed to give the executive – the grandson of Toyota’s founder – a firmer grip on the company.

The 54-year-old executive, who took control of Toyota in 2009, also said his goal is to push profits to 1 trillion yen — $12 billion at current exchange rates – “as soon as possible.”

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To get there, Toyota plans to generate 15% of its sales from China.  The maker was relatively late to enter what is now the world’s largest national car market, however, and is playing a game of catch-up with leaders Volkswagen and General Motors.  It also has to overcome lingering Chinese resentment of Japan.  Toyota also hopes to boost sales in other booming markets like India and Brazil.

“We will focus on emerging markets and environmental vehicles,” said Toyoda, a reference to the maker’s steadily expanding line-up of battery-powered vehicles.