There are signs that General Motors, after the bleakest year in its 101-year existence, which included a forced entry into bankruptcy, could be on the verge of a new dawn.
The new GM has been stripped down to four core brands with a product lineup boasting many new, appealing and high-quality products. It's a company with opportunity to reverse decades of mismanagement and decline, according to GM officials, industry analysts and GM dealers.
"I think they're really doing a good job now," said John Wolkonowicz, senior automotive industry analyst with IHS Global Insights in Lexington, Mass.
GM is "producing some outstanding stuff now, and they've got more coming," Wolkonowicz said. "The challenge for them is marketing, getting consumers to believe GM products are on a par with imports, which they are."
The financial collapse of late 2008-2009 culminated in GM being forced into a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. With the help of the bankruptcy legal process, extensive financial aid from the U.S. government and considerable pressure from the Obama administration, GM's management and board of directors were able to undertake a drastic restructuring of the company and shed billions of dollars a year in overhead costs.
Those costs, including excess plants and thousands of laid-off workers still drawing paychecks, helped pressure previous GM administrations to build hundreds of thousands of mediocre cars and trucks a year that could only be sold at deep discounts to rental car fleets or with big rebates to entice consumers.
"Our break-even point has been dramatically lowered," said Mike DiGiovanni, executive director of global industry analysis for GM. "Our competitive situation now is equal to Toyota, cost-wise."
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