This has been an unusual few weeks for General Motors in an unusual year - and here GM CEO Fritz Henderson tells Autocar why.
GM posted its first year-on-year US sales increase since early 2008 and then followed that up with the surprise announcement that it would, after all, be keeping all of its European operation.
And according to Henderson, things are looking notably better than the company anticipated when it emerged from its lightning dash through bankruptcy mid-year.
GM dropped a bombshell earlier this month when it decided not to complete the sale of Vauxhall/Opel. That’s kicked off quite a furore, and the German government is demanding you repay the three billion euro loan that kept Opel running earlier this year.Henderson: "Obviously, we’ll pay down the loan when it’s due, at the end of November. Our liquidity is good enough to do it. Then we’ll resubmit [a request for a government loan] to those countries that have expressed an interest. Things have improved there [in Europe] and, if need be, we can take a royalty holiday."
There’s a lot of finger-pointing, and the Germans and the Opel unions are mad at GM. Are you concerned about the German government having tried to force you into the sale?You’re not going to hear any criticism of the German government from me. Let’s face it, if the bridge loan hadn’t been in place, Opel would have failed.
So now what? Will you cut jobs in Europe?The business had to be restructured. Anyone’s plan would have done that, Magna’s or ours. I don’t think anyone could leave things unaddressed. I think the interest of the German government is to have a viable Opel, and in that our interests are fully aligned.
How many of the European plants will be kept open?Our plans call for a substantial reduction in capacity and our workforce. Our people will hear those details first.