GM Better Figure Out How to Stop Shrinking, I Mean Globally & Pronto, Before It’s Too Late

GM tries to shrink itself out of trouble. And it shrinks where it wants to grow. But when will it stop before hitting zero? Ugly charts of GM’s global vehicle sales, by region.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

GM announced this weekend that it would pull out of Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand, in line with its strategy to exit one market after another to shrink itself to higher profits, which has led to a stupendous downward spiral in vehicle sales.

It already pulled out of Europe, once its second-largest market, by selling Opel and Vauxhall, and its vehicle sales there have collapsed to zero.  And while it was at it, it shut down its operations in Russia, India, and South Africa, all in 2017. Its vehicle sales in China, its largest and once booming market, have plunged by 23% since 2017. Its vehicle sales in the US have dropped 6.2% since 2015. And according to GM’s 10-K SEC filings, its global sales have plunged 23% over the past three years, from 10 million vehicles in 2016, to 7.7 million vehicles in 2019, and are now just a tad higher than during its infamous bankruptcy-year 2009:

GM is winding down its engineering, design, and sales operations in Australia and will “retire” its Holden brand by 2021, it said in the announcement. GM had already stopped manufacturing Holdens in Australia in 2017 and switched to selling imports.

Upon the news of the pending demise of Holden, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison lashed out at GM for allowing Holden “to just wither away,” while, in perfect corporate-welfare-queen manner, grabbing “more than $2 billion” in taxpayer subsidies. [Yes Sir, Mr. Prime Minister Sir, that’s how it works in the USA].

In Thailand, GM plans to sell its Rayong factory to Great Wall Motors of China. And it will pull its Chevrolet brand out of the country by the end of 2020.

Closing its operations in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand isn’t free: GM expects to book charges of $1.1 billion.

In Europe and some of the other markets where GM has shut down or sold its operations, it is now pursuing a “niche presence” by selling a few “profitable, high-end imported vehicles.” So maybe some Corvettes and Crew Cabs?

GM said it’s “taking decisive action to transform its international operations, building on the comprehensive strategy it laid out in 2015 to strengthen its core business….”

Alas, its biggest “core business” is in China, its largest market in terms of vehicle sales through its various joint ventures, and in China sales are in freefall at the moment, with many dealerships and manufacturing plants having closed due to the coronavirus and demand having collapsed.

And this comes after GM’s sales in China, as measured by the number of vehicles delivered to end users, plunged 23.4% over the past two years, from 4.0 million vehicles in 2017 to 3.1 million vehicles in 2019 (data from GM’s 10-K SEC filings):

And in the US, the second-biggest part of its “core business,” sales have dropped 6.2%, from 3.08 million vehicles in 2015 to 2.89 million vehicles in 2019:

And then, there is Europe and Russia, until 2008 GM’s second largest market. After its bankruptcy filing in 2009, GM switched its focus to China to pursue its dreams, and its sales in Europe fizzled. In 2017, GM sold its German brand Opel and its UK brand Vauxhall and washed its hands off two decades of losses. It also shut down its manufacturing and sales operations in Russia, where car sales collapsed following the ruble crisis of 2014. Back in 2008, GM still sold 2.08 million vehicles in the region. By 2018, sales had collapsed to zero (except for a few Vettes and other play thingies):

South America has been a torturous path downhill for GM (this does not include Mexico, which is listed as part of North America, see below). About 70% of GM’s sales in South America are in Brazil. In 2011, GM sold 1.07 million vehicles in the region. By 2016, this had plunged by 46% to 580,000 vehicles. Sales in 2019 of 670,000 vehicles were down 37% from 2011:

In Canada and Mexico, GM’s sales plunged 18.6% in three years, from 590,000 vehicles to 480,000 vehicles, and is heading toward its 2009 bankruptcy-volume of 400,000 vehicles:

In the Rest of the World…  In GM’s category “Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa,” minus China – a category that includes Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, and other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, plus India, the Middle East, and Africa – GM’s sales have plunged 31% in five years, from 840,000 vehicles in 2014 to 580,000 vehicles in 2019. And it will plunge further with the current shutdown of its operations in Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand:

And so GM’s shrinkage continues. Shrinking yourself out of trouble looks good on paper, and shrinking per se is amazingly easy to do in a competitive world, and is in fact automatic if you’re not up to snuff. But it is fraught with existential risks, including the question: At what point do you stop shrinking before you hit zero?

And as GM is executing its next steps, either by plan or forced by the market, in that relentless shrinking process, it has yet to specify at which point it wants to stop shrinking before its sales hit zero.

Ever since Ford got sidetracked by its “Smart Mobility” dream and blew billions on it, sales in its biggest markets have spiraled down. Not just in the US and China. Here are the ugly charts by market. Read…  Ford Better Figure Out How to Sell Vehicles, And I Mean Globally & Pronto, Before it’s Too Late

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  151 comments for “GM Better Figure Out How to Stop Shrinking, I Mean Globally & Pronto, Before It’s Too Late

  1. Mean Chicken says:

    Looks like there’s only one auto manufacturer actually experiencing growth?

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Tomorrow’s News:
      – GM declares bankruptcy in US and China (sheds historic liabilities)
      – Tesla acquires select GM assets in exchange for stock.
      – Ford divests all businesses other than F-series trucks

      –> Tesla instantly becomes largest US automaker with largest product line.

      Share price matters.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Wisdom Seeker,

        Part 2: After Tesla acquires GM assets, Tesla’s investors insist on profit and earnings per share, and after Tesla finally produces some annual earnings, and after some push and shove, earnings per share hit $1.12, investors assign a PE ratio of 15 to the shares, and the share price plunges to $17.25 a share, with a PE ratio of 15, like a proper profitable growing automaker. Happy?

        • Álvaro says:

          Seems like the worst thing that can happen to a company these days is having a net profit.

        • Norm T says:

          Except that GM has profit increases for most of the last decade….Tesla has not.

          In order to push BEV starting this decade through the old system it is better to just to server those ties.

        • Karl says:

          It’s interesting how Tesla is selling EVERYTHING it can build, without advertising…

          GM NEEDS to build everything as cheap as possible, then try to market it as upscale (Bolt, Cadillac) and wonders why nobody buys their stuff.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Compared to GM, or any of the other big ones, Tesla is just dabbling in the car business. The chart shows the top 10 automakers measured by global vehicle sales. And for your amusement, I added Tesla, which is the tiny red speck at the bottom:

      • Taps Coogan says:

        Tomorrow’s other news:

        *GM gets another taxpayer bailout…

  2. Jessy S says:

    Just send GM into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That should have been done in 2009. Plus, I am of the mind that we should arrest all executives in this country and Europe with the exception of the executives at Breitbart, yourself, and Donald Trump. You, Wolf, can be the new attorney general. That is how bad white collar crime has gotten in the United States.

    • 2banana says:

      And that is the irony.

      Instead of the corrupt political bailout and bankruptcy of GM in 2009, with the destruction of 100 years of contract law, giving away the company to political donors and the massive taxpayer bailout.

      GM would have, instead, been allowed to go through a real bankruptcy, the following would have happened.

      1. Poor management would have been fired.

      2. Massive debts would have been nullified.

      3. The company would have shrunk. Chunks that made sense would have remained.

      4. Insane union contracts would have been renegotiated.

      The GM that emerged would have been smaller, nimble and much more competitive.

      I said at the time in 2010, GM will be back in bankruptcy within a decade. I was close.

      • char says:

        The GM that would have emerged would have closed all new developments, which costs money, and would have only have old tech. A second Chrysler before it got a tech infusion from Fiat (would be very funny if it wasn’t the truth). It would have been dead by 2025

        • Cashboy says:

          I am very suspicious of FIAT and Chrysler consolidation.

          I suspect that FIAT is another Parmalat (Enron of Italy) but much bigger.

        • char says:

          It is a car maker.They all are Parmalat but Fiat more.

      • Jessy S says:

        I disagree. While there may have not been a political bailout, there would have been the following:

        1. Management gets a golden parachute.
        2. Unions get hosed.
        3. GM gets liquidated.

        The bailout was all about helping the unions survive.

        • 2banana says:

          When a company goes into a real bankruptcy, there is always the risk of liquidation if the bankruptcy judge thinks there is no other possible way to save the company through a restructuring.

          However, history is full of successful companies that survived bankruptcy and emerged stronger over the long term.

          A few off the top of my head:

          American Airlines
          Six Flags

          And the Chicago Cubs.

          On a personal note. I know a handful of entrepreneurs that went bankrupt and went on to do great things without liquidation.

    • Rp says:

      Easy to say for no job creators. Other than keyboard warriors

    • Normansdog says:

      Breitbart? You are kidding right?

  3. S says:

    GM stands for General Misery, in everything they do.

    • Paulo says:

      I thought it stood for, “Got Money”?

      I’ve seen lots of businesses do the shrinking act over the years. Next thing you know they talk about their RE holdings. Like Sears….

      If they really go lower they can blame it on the Virus.

      • Harrold says:

        Sears has no real estate holdings, Eddie Lampert acquired them all.

      • Shiloh1 says:

        Did GM’s older, more polluted locations get lopped off in the 2009 bankruptcy, swept into the RACER environmental liability trust, i.e. “Old GM”, backstopped by U.S. taxpayers?

    • rhodium says:

      Just like many of these companies that sell an engineered product, but don’t seem to believe in engineering. GM, Boeing, etc. Can I get someone to complain about windows? Everything is becoming more technologically integrated and advanced, and yet there is this mindset frequently still that seems to say the key to business is foremost how to get a fool to buy our shitty product. Relative monopolies sometimes mean they don’t even have try hard to do that. Luckily in the automotive space competition will save us from GM, but when they’re gone will someone else pull up to keep giving us choices? Will Muskrat hold up American engineering? Lol

  4. Yuhong Bao says:

    This reminds me of EV shortages in Canada. I wonder how many of the sales of GM in Canada are EV sales.

    • 2banana says:

      GM made been dabbling/making EVs since the oil shock of the 1970s and got semi serious about them in the 1990s.

      They could have owned the market. But it made no financial sense.

      • David Hall says:

        Tesla has been profitable for two consecutive quarters. TSLA stock is surging. TSLA is better for America than Porsche.

        GM is profitable. Them exiting unprofitable markets is essential. They have been paying their bills. No bankruptcy in the immediate future.

        China announced a take over of a large indebted airline and plans to sell its assets. The airline management was inefficient. They lose their jobs.

        • Prairies says:

          This isn’t the first time Tesla has shown 2 profitable quarters in a row. I wouldn’t brag about it because every other time it was from cashing in government subsidies. If they can prove this isn’t a taxpayer bump to keep the fundraising song and dance going and post steady profits for the majority of a fiscal year then you can start praising them. Until then, keep calm and enjoy the show.

        • char says:

          It depends on how you do the accounting but from a money perspective those markets should make money. I expect GM to re-enter those markets again.

  5. A/C in SD says:

    I thought it stood for Government Motors circa 2009?

    • Wolfbay says:

      Yup no worries. To big to fail.

      • brant Lee says:

        Yeah, like Boeing and U.S. oil companies.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Boeing is one of only 2 massive airplane manufacturers in the world. There are plenty of car makers. Creating an oil company isn’t rocket science. Considering the current ceo of GM is trying to push manufacturing out of the country as fast as possible it will likely lead to a much worse situation. Which is, an American company on paper that doesn’t pay taxes, that hires foreign engineers, massively uses imported parts, that builds the cars increasingly in other counties, with little exports. If China implodes or stops buying American cars, a very likely possibility because of nationalism. There would be little point in rescuing them. What point would there be a Toyota sold in America is just as American at this point and they don’t need bailout money.

  6. F.L.A.C. says:

    The recession is coming. Wall Street hasn’t gotten the memo yet…

    Prepare for some major money printing…

    • Pedro says:

      Money is better than real stuff. You can buy stocks with it and stocks go up. It’s a great system

      • Frederick says:

        Better yet , they still “ allow” us deploreables to purchase Gold and Silver You’re welcome

        • fajensen says:

          Until asset forfeiture laws are changed, you’re just collecting nice stuff for the Christmas raffle down at the local precinct :)

    • Mr Knoss says:

      Too late to prepare, it’s already started.

  7. raxadian says:

    GM has been on life support for over a decade.

    In fact besides one or two brands that are what actually gives it money, the company should just die already.

    What? You think only old british companies thar are behind the times should die? Americans are also full of those.

    • 2banana says:

      When a company emerges from a bankruptcy, it shouldn’t be on “life support.” That is the entire point of going through a bankruptcy, to start anew.

      It should be smaller, faster, nimble with new management and a whole lot less debt.

      “GM has been on life support for over a decade.”

      • Frederick says:

        I’m just baffled by the fact that there are so many people left who are crazy enough to buy a GM product That’s what truly strikes me about these lovely charts

        • Petunia says:

          If you have never owned a GM car you could be tempted by the very nice design of the Buicks. However, if you have owned a GM car, you know better.

      • raxadian says:

        The problem is, GM didn’t emerge from bankruptcy, it got a government bail out. That just encouraged to keep parting like it was 1999.

  8. timbers says:

    I wish someone should give me $2,000,000,000. I’m more deserving than GM is.

  9. Stephen says:

    GM’s time has come and gone. In the 70’s and to some extent, the 80’s, you could sell junk to the American people, but today there are just too many cars that are generally better than GMs. I remember very well the junk that the American car manufacturers were trying to unload on the American people in the 70’s. America should not try to hang on to an earlier era.

    • 2banana says:

      The Japanese were known for making junk too. From pre WWII to the early 1970s.

      You want to see real junk? Go look at a Japanese tank/rifle/machine gun from WWII or Japanese cars, toys and small appliances from the 1960s.

      Then something changed…

      Some say a miracle.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Dr. Deming’s work changed Japanese industry, especially the Japanese auto industry, but only because he was rejected first by the major auto manufacturers in USA.
        It was decades before our industries picked up on his work, to our very definite shame.

        • Mark_2 says:

          Deming’s story is inspiring…
          He was put off in Japan too initially, then the Japanese managers were TOLD to behave and the cars got better.

        • Frederick says:

          I had a 1972 Datsun 240Z Loved that car but it did have a few quality issues I must admit A friend of mine had an MG Midget Now that was a rattle box

        • Harrold says:

          Demming carried on the work started by Homer Sarasohn.

      • char says:

        Korean cars from the ’90’s are junk

        • TheDuke says:

          You had the Hyundai Excel and the Yugo,if you spent $800 more and got the Hyundai your a happy customer back 30 years,The Chevy cavalier cost almost $3,000 more than the Hyundai Excel & a new Yugo could be had for as little as $ 3999.00

    • Cas127 says:

      The gvt will keep GM alive at some level – it needs the knowledge base, supplier and pdtn line infrastructure in order to also supply domestically produced military vehicles. Commercial auto pdtn at some level provides a cover/excuse for this.

      • Jessy S says:

        Actually GM needs the government more than the government needs GM. President Trump can order the Pentagon to change suppliers from GM to Ford, Dodge/Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, or another supplier as long as they are willing to use US factories.

    • Mean Chicken says:

      Yeah, those 1970 Plymouth Barracuda’s and Chevy Chevelles (I bought a ’69 chevelle new off the showroom floor) were the writing on the wall, can’t give them away.

      • QQQBall says:

        I was thinking more along the lines of the Pinto, Vega and any Rambler vehicle. Was just talking to GF about this article. I got 333,000 trouble-free miles on a 1993 Honda Accord and 356,000 on a Toyota Cressida, which was a pleasure to drive. She owns a Chevy and had some super expensive repair or replacement of a supercharger b/f 100k miles. Piece of crap still has no guts going uphill. Next ride is likely to be a Camry.

        • Kielbasa says:

          Pinto and Vega: Check. I had forgotten the Rambler, but you left out the awful AMC Gremlin! Now there was a sad, sad excuse for a vehicle.

        • Dan Romig says:

          In 1962 my mom got two new things. One was a V-8 Rambler Classic 4-door sedan with an automatic transmission. The other was a son she named Dan.

          I know she loved her Rambler. Me? Most of the time anyway. I have lasted longer than the Rambler though.

      • Zantetsu says:

        Mean Chicken, those hold value based on style and nostalgia, not quality.

    • Brant Lee says:

      I remember too. Starting in the 70s cars were made to sell (often), not to own for long. Car dealers made a huge business out of fixing junk and selling outrageously priced parts. The old customers from the reliable 1960s on back have died off. Sorry, but I’ve been burned too many times owning GM.

  10. Realist says:

    During the first year of French ownership, Opel did churn out a profit, something GM didn’t manage to do for years.

    Are the French smarter or are the GM leadership simply inept ?

    • Wolf Richter says:


      That was an accounting profit, obtained via heavily proclaimed and possibly fake “synergies.” Opel is not publicly traded, and we only know about it what PSA wants us to believe. And what they want us to believe is that PSA achieved an instant “turnabout” of Opel on the spot.

      However, in terms of vehicle sales Opel is worse off than before, and Vauxhall’s UK plant is on the list of plants that might get shut:

      • Wes says:

        Mr. Richter, good analysis. Here’s one reason why GM sold Opel Vauxhall.(See link below)
        The US government bailed out GM and Chrysler because the whole US auto supply chain probably would have went down with them. They had become shell corporations keeping the suppliers in business. The US government didn’t think Chrysler had much of a chance even after the bankruptcy bailout. So far, it looks like the new FCA management has done better than what the US government realistically could have imagined.

        • char says:

          GM is one of the big EV makers. They could have sold electric, build in America, EV’s and be very safe from being killed by EU CO2 fines.

    • van_down_by_river says:

      Both GM and Peugeot-Citroen are pseudo GSE’s protected by their respective socialist government politburos. The French have more experience operating under socialism then the Americans and have ironed some of the kinks.

      Does GM care any longer how many cars they sell? Do the golden parachutes get smaller as the sales decrease? Did the CEO give back the money he made selling his option granted stock prior to the last time they went BK?

      I don’t see how any of this matters as long as the people who are important are protected from harm. As long as the damage is confined to small investors (again) the world will continue to spin on its axis. So relax everything will be alright. The people that matter are protected by the full faith and taxing authority of the USA.

    • fajensen says:

      Opel were shitty, fast rusting, cars and on top of that, boring and dull too. Opel only ever sold well as Fleet Cars because nobody would buy one with their own money!

      Citroen and Renault have enough issues together that its has become the vernacular to talk about “French Cars” and everybody can immediately relate, but they are also fun and creative cars to own, due to the design, and in the way that they will find new ways to fail, renewing the “French Car” experience with every purchase and sometimes annually.

      My Citroen C3, f.ex. would sometimes refuse to start. At All. Nothing to be done, never a fault found, just dead. After a while, it was learned that taking out the fuse to the ECU would usually restore normal service.

      Other C3’s will have an engine light on, no fault is ever found, it is just the tradition that there shall be a warning light on in a French car until the bulb burns out, but, being an LED the bulb is good for 50000 hours.

      Brakes on the C3 will develop a tiny squeak, which indicates that in 3-4 months there is a repair bill coming for a full set of disc brakes, so, we better get those 600 EUR it into the budget as a goal. Thats service and consideration!

      Everyone eventually grows into a boring old fart who buys a Toyota (and that thing just runs and runs).

      • Insta says:

        I have had a check engine light on in a Ranger since 2002. It has something to do with emissions. Pretty sure the bulb will last forever.

        • Jon says:

          Give it a couple more years, my 2000 Ranger’s check engine bulb finally fizzled out..
          “Emissions – Small leak detected”
          Just another shitty aftermarket fuel cap.

        • BillS says:

          LOL! I have a 2004 Opel Corsa with a check-engine light that has been on since 2010. Nothing seems to be wrong with the engine; runs fine. I’ve been generally satisfied with the car. It has a Fiat 1.3 liter turbo diesel engine in it now with 220,000 km. Upon learning this, I would have expected worse.

          The Astra and Corsa are/were big sellers for Opel. IHMO, GM hacked off a major body part disposing of Opel. By doing so, it lost access to its European small sedan designs..which may return to favor among Americans when the next oil crisis arrives. Opel was nothing special, but the quality was notably higher than the US-based GM models.

  11. Willy Winky says:

    ‘GM is winding down’

    The global economy is — winding down. Stimulus is pushing on a string.

    And then there is the virus that is stabbing the global economy in the heart.

    • JohnR says:

      NOOOO! Its because 1970s American cars were awful. And Tesla barely squeeks by a profit every blue moon or so, and theyre the God-given savior of all. Closing unprofitable businesses? Building vehicles people actually buy? Crazy talk, I tells ya! Crazy talk.

  12. nhz says:

    All the charts in the article suggest that in the current Mickey Mouse stockmarket the GM stock price should be surging. Is Jerome being negligent with his counterfeiting operation?

    • timbers says:

      nhz, you read my mind.

      Looks like anther PERFECT headline for Wall Street to surge the stock:

      “GM Shrinks Itself to Profit”

      “Apple Terminates Production to Slash Costs on Profits”

      Wall Street roars. But on the production of money (liquidity) not the economy.

    • Mean Chicken says:

      In light of GM’s lowered revenue forecast and plant closures, the Fed has announced that effective immediately, it will ramp up
      NOT QE purchases of Buffet’s pickup trucks.

  13. Pete Stubben says:

    GE too, but it’s sooo difficult to stay on top of your game for decades upon decades upon decades. They need disrupters, not sycophance… PJS

  14. Petunia says:

    GM finally figured out the Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians are more house poor than Americans.

    • Alister says:

      No, it’s just that their competitors offer more models and body styles than GM does. Same thing with Ford.

    • Alec says:

      In Australia the Captiva is commonly called the CRAPTIVA because of all the repairs it needs.

  15. panatomic says:

    there has been overcapacity in the automobile industry for decades. gm has been systematically losing focus for at least twenty years and just been cashing in on trends without any real vision for the future. they have very little left that is special. just the corvette and their ls series v8 engines. they even sold their excellent magneride suspension to the chinese.

    he financial crisis was just an excuse for their bankruptcy, they would have folded within five years regardless. saving them was a waste of taxpayer money. if any big player deserves to go under, it’s gm.

  16. gorbachev says:

    Of the five major mid suv’s

    Escape ,rav 4, crv5. tiquan . equinox .the equinox is

    the one I see least .This is where the non pickup market

    is right now. I think Gm needs some sizzle in this area.

    • Endeavor says:

      #1 selling vehicle in Michigan is the Chevy Equinox. Yes, the Home of the Motor City in America now buys more Mexican made Equinox than any other Detroit based automakers offerings.

    • sc7 says:

      You see it the least because like most GM vehicles, it’s an overpriced piece of crap that will be shot by 100k miles.

      • Petunia says:

        I owned a lot of Fords. They were all crap by 100K miles. My 14 year old Mustang a ’94 was falling apart at 56K miles. All were garaged vehicles.

    • noname says:

      Equinox is hugely popular (fact, not my opinion; 350k sold last year). An elderly relative is picking another one up this week, much to my chagrin. Sit in the back seat and hear it moan :/

  17. Eureka says:

    What has happened is that inventors like myself have closed shop and gone home. We either retired or did something simple to earn a living. We can invent and create Atlantis but we keep getting robbed of compensation worthy of such creation So we got tired of the swamp and went home. This is why the wheels have stopped turning. The age of wonder that was supposed to be here is here but its locked up in until the swamp goes away.

    • Petunia says:

      A lot of good people are sitting on their hands because they got tired of being ripped off. We could be a lot further along, but you can screw people only so much, before they don’t care anymore.

    • 2banana says:

      I have asked those who want bigger and bigger government…

      At what point between 0% and 100% taxation does a person become a slave.

      I never get an answer to this simple question.

      Additionally, slaves don’t invent stuff. They don’t push frontiers. They don’t take risks. They don’t build new businesses and industries.

      They keep their heads down and try to draw as little attention as possible.

      • timbers says:

        “I have asked those who want bigger and bigger government…

        At what point between 0% and 100% taxation does a person become a slave.

        I never get an answer to this simple question.”



        I believe Milton Friedman suggested a constitutional amendment limiting Federal spending to 5% of the economy. So if it spends 5.1% or more, you’re a slave. He also said spending – not taxing – represent a more accurate measure of actual taxing because it captures the a truer measure of resources consumed by government.

        Now you have you’re answer.

    • fajensen says:

      Exactly This! Technological civilisation will collapse due to lack of interest!

      I know former engineers who owns niche electronics / software design shops, apple farms, micro breweries, distilleries, grow spices, some drive taxi, all because they (eventually) realised that helping corporations build great technology is a losers business, because:

      Your entire career is on the ‘expense side’ and expenses are something to be controlled, scrutinised and minimised, whereas the people that shall be grown and rewarded in all cases (never mind the outcomes) are on the ‘income side’, which are sales and management (management is *never* an expense that needs controlling).

      Research sucks even harder: Everything is on post-grad 2-years contracts with one years extension option. Young researches will just have to drag themselves and family across Europe from job to job like gipsies. Once they finally gets tenure, they will hang on like barnacles and never move again (making the fighting for positions and re-orgs inside of universities and research institutions the most vicious there is :).

      People who can, they drop out to get away from the corp-rat bullshit and spend more time on things that are relevant to them. Running a business it just a way to secure cash-flow, they don’t even want it to grow, they know that growth is more work and the smell of growth will attract the sociopaths and then they are back in the shit again!

    • noname says:

      Needs to be screenshot and distributed across the country!

    • Rhys Baird says:

      @Eureka, I feel your pain. My partners and I have been inventing and licensing IP for over 35 years. It was always a tough slog but post The Great Recession it has become intolerable.

      We are currently negotiating contracts for three products, upon completion we are done for good. Except, we will have to continue to spend time and money creating new patents to protect our old patents because the first order of business for a licensee these days is to get around the patent. We had that happen to us for the first time in 2015. They didn’t get away with it because we are very, very good at what we do. Nevertheless, a lot of unnecessary time and money was spent by all. Money and time much better spent on the product.

      Perhaps, we have been quite fortunate to deal with honorable people for the majority of our career. We are irredeemable old school team players, like all inventors the last of the great dreamers and optimists. We decided to leave before the light was completely extinguished.

  18. Alister says:

    I owned a 2014 Chevy Impala, a 2016 Chevy Impala LTZ, then in 2018 I upgraded to 2018 Cadillac XTS. All were fine repair free cars with 3.6L V6’s. All were very fuel efficient. My Cadillac complaint would be that a Caddy should have plush seats, not thin Malibu seats. You could say I’m a good GM customer.

    Last year GM closed the Canadian Oshawa plant that made these cars – strike 1 for me. Then they quit making the V6 XTS and now make a 4 banger XT5 – Strike 2, a Caddy 4 pot drops again to Malibu status in my view. Now they say I won’t be able to get a CT6 because it will be discontinued – strike 3.

    Today they say I will have to buy a refrigerator on wheels EV for the cold weather experience.

    GM is in EV never-never land and dying right before my eyes, but I guess all is well as long as Mary B gets her bonus.

    • Mean Chicken says:

      I’d never buy a paint shaker, also won’t buy something void of dipsticks or obviously intended for a disposable society, either.

    • panatomic says:

      the quality issues with gm cars rarely show up before 100k miles. that may seem pretty good, if you don’t hold onto your vehicles but a toyota or honda will last twice as long. it’s a shame that gm has closed the oshawa plant. canadian factories have a reputation for building very good cars. ford’s windsor plant has built some of the best cars in north america.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Mary B has blood on her hands from Chevy Cobalt deaths and injuries, she was in charge of QC at the time and had to know and be part of coverup.

  19. R2D2 says:

    The US of the 2020s is looking like the UK of the 1950s.

    Former giants losing out to bigger rivals from overseas.

    UK lost all its giant car and airplane companies due to poor quality and crashes.

    US is losing all its giant car and airplane companies due to poor quality and crashes…

    • Cas127 says:

      Both countries also had gvts whose delusions of grandeur turned their currencies to crap.

      At least the UK helped to beat Hitler; all the US got out of its ruin was a few decades of hookers, blow, and moral posturing for DC.

      • Dan Romig says:

        Since a former German leader’s name has been mentioned, Alfred P. Sloan should be included. Why Sloan? Because GM bought Opel in 1929 for $33.3 million.

        Sloan was president of GM and he did not like FDR or the New Deal. He did tell GM stockholders in 1936, “Industry must assume the role of industrial statesmanship.” That was Sloan’s way of justifying making money – for shareholders – off of Germany’s growing war machine.

        GM, under Sloan, had Opel in Germany working directly for the Nazi’s game plan. In 1935, GM opened a factory in Brandenburg and began making Opel’s three-ton “Blitz” trucks. The Wehrmacht was bringing home profit to GM.

        “GM tries to shrink itself out of trouble.” as Wolf states. Sloan, in his 1964 autobiography wrote, “Deliberately to stop growing is to suffocate.” General Motors is running out of breath it appears.

  20. Social Nationalist says:

    Just kick out foreign auto companies who disrespected our workers. GMs problem would be over.

    • Happy1 says:

      GM cars are of lower quality than the Japanese and now Koreans. I won’t buy them until they are of similar quality. Whether or not they have a unionized workforce is not relevant for most of us who simply want a reliable vehicle.

      • Social Nationalist says:

        Poppycock. Your making stuff up. Those cars are overrated junk. I finally got my mother to bail from Honda’s after another engine failure.

  21. Trinacria says:

    Somewhere along the line, they got a good dose of preparation H … and man, is it doing the job of shrinking those…

    • WES says:

      Trinacria:. The prep H is being applied only to the best and most capable employees by the politically correct crowd. You know how that story unfolds.

  22. Old Engineer says:

    Isn’t this more or less what GE is doing? Seems to be a trend. You wonder about the logic: buying back their shares and reducing their revenue simultaneously. You are right, it seems like a race to the bottom.

  23. Max Power says:

    The only thing related to GM that’s growing is the size of their trucks.

    The company basically has one plan and one plan only – sell as many trucks as they can.

    They better hope gas prices don’t start rising at some point or they’re toast.

    • NoEasyDay says:

      @Max Power-

      >The company basically has one plan and one plan
      >only – sell as many trucks as they can.

      A well appointed 1/2 ton pickup fetches more than $50k,
      and they’re still “screwing the pooch.” WTF?

      • CrazyCooter says:

        I avidly REFUSE to buy a new vehicle, particularly a truck where I need 4wd. The costs are just insane.

        I am driving used for the rest of my life. Milking a 2002, a 2004, and a 2008 between me and the wifey. They all run fine.



    • Frederick says:

      And gas prices WILL start rising at some point I expect to see lots of big pickups and Escalades alongside old dilapidated houses with no plates and deflated tires very soon

  24. WES says:

    GM has been exiting the unprofitable car business to focus on it’s more profitable truck/SUVs.

    Mary is supposedly refocusing GM to the future which she sees as EVs. This should earn her great praise with the green crowd.

    I know more of what is happening inside GM but sadly can’t say more.

  25. Michael Engel says:

    1) I love u, love u, Mary Barra.
    2) China shrinkage is incomplete. From 1.5M to 4M a 2.5M bull run in 8Y.
    3) The coronavirus will further clip GM sales by 1M to 1.5M.
    4) Chinese national mfg can sustain the heat, but the imperialist GM,
    cannot. The American invaders are too spoiled. Mary Barra cannot take it anymore. They will pack it up and leave back to Detroit.
    5) Thanks GM, u started a wonderful trend. Mary Barra GM will be sold
    for 15 to 30 cents per dollar at the bottom of coronavirus, when GM will make a round trip back to 1.5M/Y.
    6) The Chinese national strong hands will accumulate assets from
    Mary Barra delicate hands, getting GM at a discount.
    7) When the coronavirus crisis will be over, Chinese car sales will recover,
    be the envy of the world, without GM and Queen Barra.

  26. unit472 says:

    I’m sure the Hummer EV will set things right as its plain as day that what the world wants is a giant electric car.

    • Jessy S says:

      There is the Canyonaro as promoted on The Simpsons. It reportedly hogs both lanes of a two lane road. That was funnier than an SNL commercial.

  27. And they use easy credit to shrink their stock float and become more profitable. In the Big Book of Capitalism is this how it is supposed to work?

  28. N. Maier says:

    They should focus on the USA, Canada and Mexico and let the other markets go. Put all your energy and design talent into what these markets want. Ego and the lure of “market share” has blinded them. Chevrolet as a brand doesn’t translate in Thailand.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Toyota doesn’t have those kinds of problems :-]

    • char says:

      You need scale in the auto business. Trucks are for VW a side business but they can spend so much more on engines that in the end they will make better Trucks because their engines are so much better. Real Estate is ruled by the three L’s (location, location, location). Car making is ruled by the three S’s (scale, scale, scale). You end up dead if you pull back to only your home market.

      There is another important point. Designing a car is a very big part of the cost. Building one extra does not cost that much so selling one in a market you would otherwise wont sell is a relative easy way to make money

      Thailand is the only other truck market in the world outside North America. Chevrolet is the shirt sponsor of Manchester United. If it can’t work as a brand in Thailand than GM should stop making cars.

  29. Randy Oldman says:

    I drive a ’03 Toyoto Sienna and at 250k kilometers it is still totally reliable and fun to drive. I assume that the quality is due to the Japanese technical culture and the devotion of the workforce (back then anyway). I did have a 65 Chevy in the 70’s that ran to 300k miles but I wouldn’t expect that from any current GM car. So did GM give up on engineering and quality of manufacture in favour of marketing and style? Seems like it’s run by MBa’s and financial undertakers.

  30. Willy Winky says:

    Come on Wolf surely you can see what GM is doing.

    They are looking at Tesla a company with sales that are a pip in terms of total global auto sales, a company that has lost billions every year for nearly twenty years, yet whose market cap is off the charts…

    AND they are finally ‘getting it’

    They are desperately trying to reduce sales to a similar level of Tesla. A secondary goal is to lose billions every year.

    Once they have achieved these ambitious goals, be made great again.

  31. Memento mori says:

    The decline of quality and manufacturing started in the 80s when interest rates were high and companies were making more money by investing their cash than selling their product.
    As a result, company managers that were usually engineers got replaced by financial guys while didn’t care about process or quality but to beat by a cent the Wall Street expectations.
    It takes time for those things to play out but eventually reality always asserts itself.
    Like with the GATT , few people know about it but it was what definitely screwed the American middle class. Yet some guys new it but as always were ignored and ridiculed.

  32. char says:

    GM also sold Daewoo in Europe, later rebranded as Chevrolet. They also closed that down.

  33. REIT Dude says:

    Seems like divesting themselves of a bunch of money-losing low-price foreign brands and focusing on higher margin trucks and SUVs might be a decent move for them. They’ve gotta do something…

  34. Pedro says:

    Teslas are being run 300-500k mikes with minimal issues, mostly covered by warranty

    When this story gets more PR, people will flock to electric cars for the lifetime savings of owning a car for 25+ years.

    So the manufactures that capture share early will benifit from the transition to electric. But eventually there will be less over all demand if cars can last 2-3x longer than their ICE cousins.

    Combine that with improved micro mobility in urban centers car volumes are in secular decline.

    • Willy Winky says:

      Mate, trying googling Tesla owner complaints. Watch some of the videos.

      And then there is this:

      Consumer Reports says it can no longer recommend the Model 3 because issues with the paint, trim and body hardware raises reliability questions. CR members reported the results in an annual reliability survey that includes data on about 470,000 vehicles.

      Of course a lot of owners will NEVER admit that their Tesla is a heap of rubbish because they believe they are saving the world. And you do NOT complain no matter what, when you are on that futile mission.

    • SwissBrit says:

      How many Teslas have managed to get to 300-500k miles already?

    • Alister says:

      A question for all you Tesla lovers.

      I always wondered what Tesla drivers do on a trip in the wind swept prairies while they are waiting for their cars to charge up between destinations in freezing weather?

      And how far can you go with the heat on in winter?

      My millennial son and daughter live in high rises in Toronto which has millions of residents . No chargers at their building, and no chargers at work. If they went to a charging station would they have immediate access in such a high population area? What would they do for an hour in the winter while waiting for the charge?

      • Wolf Richter says:


        Of the 328 million people in the US, not many live in the middle of the wind-swept harsh Canadian prairies that they have to cross every day ;-]

        • alister says:

          I’m travelled, the US has lots of flat land to, i,very been there on business travel

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes, EVs work just fine in flat lands. The somewhat facetious point was this: of the 328 million people in the US, the vast majority live in places and do things that don’t require crossing wide-open frozen land on a regular basis. You used this to say that EVs don’t work. Well, they might not work or everyone. But they’ll work for the majority of the people who work in big cities and who fly if they have to go far. And that’s a HUGE potential customer base.

  35. Squid Man says:

    I come from South Australia where Holden had its manufacturing plant. Despite being owned by GM, Holden was seen as Australian and produced some very popular cars. When they decided to close the Elizabeth plant and go overseas brand loyalty fell like a rock. Without the brand bring tied to Australia there was no way it could complete with better import vehicles. It makes me sad that manufacturing in general has disappeared from my state, and many auto workers were left without jobs. Now all we do is serve coffee to each other.

    • Pedro says:

      Welcome to the first world, your job now is to shuffle paper and buy financial products. Only emerging economies have to do the hard work of making stuff.

      The best part is that it works because emerging economy workers desperately want jobs that pay slave wages. This is the new serfdom of modern society. Historians will denounce our cruel treatment of the working class and the excess of the neo global feudalism class.

      When the world depopulated I sure hope robots can do 99% of the work. Otherwise we’ll be back to hunting and gathering species.

      • Marc D. says:

        Australia’s very big in natural resources, though. They’re a major exporter of agricultural products, minerals and energy. So they have that in common with the U.S. and Canada.

        I just had a bottle of Australian Merlot last night.

  36. California Bob says:

    I can’t believe GM/Chevy is still bombarding the tubes with their insipid ‘Real People’ commercials. I head for the mute button as soon as I see or hear their smarmy announcer, and everyone I know hates them likewise. For everyone who bought a Chevy because they believe J. D. Power is a legitimate arbiter of quality–like, arguably, Consumer Reports–there’s probably three who considered a Chevy but were repulsed by those commercials.

    It almost seems like they don’t even give a shit any more, if they ever did, and I suppose it’s vaunted ‘brand awareness,’ even if it’s overwhelmingly negative.

  37. MCH says:

    Solution here is the same as Ford, well, ok, a little different, don’t let Tesla buy GM. Instead, use private equity to help execute a take over of Tesla and insist that all vehicles will be electric by (insert year here). Then turn around and demand support for American jobs and claim the mantra of green new deal.

    That should help return GM share prices to more reasonable levels.

    Oh, and don’t forget, pump up Cruise at the same time.

  38. Bill says:

    I get the feeling we may soon hear rumors of consolidation, i.e., Ford and GM merging. Just imagine the factory closings, job losses, writedowns, and further declining sales. Maybe they’ll try to justify it by saying one leaner producer will be better for the environment. And they’ll raise the prices of their pickups and other trucks.

    • Pete in Toronto says:

      The late CEO of Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, pointed out that very thing a few years ago.

      He said that industry production capacity was still so large, it would require further mergers to resolve.

      • Marc D. says:

        Marchionne wanted to merge FCA with GM, but GM kept rebuffing his advances. So his successor has now merged them with PSA instead.

  39. Sammy Iyer says:

    After 21 years of operations in India, General Motors stopped selling cars in India by the end of 2017. GM sold the factories to Great Wall of China in Jan2020(who is planning to launch mini suv +electric cars soon in India).
    GM could never get traction in market share to beat Suzuki (45% market share) & Hyundai (25%). GM Started with Opel Astra,Opel Corsa,Opel Swing.Then came Chevy Tavera,Sail,Spark,Cruze,Beat,Enjoy,Traiblazer etc.Resale value for GM used cars was very poor (compared to Suzuki& Hyundai). Once I test drove GM Tall boy compact Chevy Beat but bought Suzuki Wagon-R instead.(after 4years I sold it for 60% of the original on theroad price paid)
    GM After sales service was viewed by Indian public as non trust worthy & perceived as poor quality build & as vehicle deteriorating fast after 50k km. Also GM could not replicate Suzuki& Hyundai’s success of exporting India manufactured vehicles to Africa,middle east, south america etc (to get volume to economise supply chain).. Amen !

  40. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Here in Australia, our MSM has neglected to tell us that GM is actually pulling out of Australia completely. It just talks about GM phasing out the locally designed (and until recently manufactured) brand of cars known here as ‘Holdens’. Quite a difference – all the current Holden dealers will be left high and dry with no Holden or GM cars to sell. Thanks for giving us the real story, Wolf!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      GM said it will honor the warranty on the vehicles it sold in Australia. So they will have some kind of presence to deal with the warranty claims until the warranties expire.

    • Sammy Iyer says:

      When a brand exits the market totally (whether dealer honors waranty or not) , resale value takes a big hit. Try reselling a used 3 year-36k km or 5 year-60k Holden/GM vehicle. you will get 30-40% less than a similar Toyota/Hyundai. Dealer has to get rid of even a new vehicle at less than sticker price or as buy back lease ..

      • Wolf Richter says:

        But put that low-mileage Holden into a barn and wait 70 years, and then your great-grand kids can sell it as a “barn find” in original condition at a classic car auction for a quadrillion A$ :-]

  41. GotCollateral says:

    17 companies out of about 337 make up about 23% of the $ denom IG market by issuance underlying LQD (32% by notional value from current prices from friday)

    3 of those 17 are AAPL, HSBC and GM… lets see if we get credit risk headlines for the rest next :P

    Heres more:

    BIG HOLDERS >= 20
    AAPL 29 [u’AAPL’, ‘APPLE INC’]
    GM 23 [u’GM’, ‘GENERAL MOTORS CO’]
    T 35 [u’T’, ‘AT&T INC’]
    WFC 30 [u’WFC’, ‘WELLS FARGO & CO’]
    C 35 [u’C’, ‘CITIGROUP INC’]
    MS 24 [u’MS’, ‘MORGAN STANLEY’]
    HSBC 20 [u’HSBC’, ‘HSBC USA INC’]
    ORCL 21 [u’ORCL’, ‘ORACLE CORP’]
    JPM 40 [u’JPM’, ‘JPMORGAN CHASE & CO’]
    big_issuance_sum_count: 478 of 2022 (0.236399604352, notional: 0.325695555181)

  42. Upstate says:

    Paraphrase of a saying from the 1950’s,
    “As goes GM so goes the country “.

  43. Emc2 says:

    Tesla being bailed out by employees with low wages and poor working conditions. Tomorrow’s news. Tesla gets bought out for pennies on the dollar. Complete Tesla line is scrapped and new safe EVs emerge.

  44. DanS86 says:

    GM has moved much IP to China. I used to be a major shareholder in a company that supplied GM with cutting tools. The Supplier Discount was nice (didn’t apply to Corvettes) but the mismanagement of on the floor was obvious with much crony crap.

  45. Mad Dog says:

    Ford was no better. I had a 1978 Mustang that was without a doubt the worst piece of junk ever to be driven on the road. It could not be tuned up properly and with more than 3 occupants could not climb a small hill. It had a trunk that had a spring that kept snapping off and would not stay open. No one could fix it. I finally unloaded it to a dealer in NVA for about 2K trade in value. Could not sell it privately with fear of being taken out by the disgruntled buyer.

  46. Stan Sexton says:

    I can’t believe everyone is lining up to buy the New C8 Corvette. It has an engine designed in 1954. Cam in block, non-crossflow two valve heads activated by pushrods. 2020 body, 1954 engine. Cmon GM, get with some new engineering.

  47. Bostwick9 says:

    Lots of “new engineering ” out there that isn’t worth **&*. DI, CVTs, DSGs, tiny little 4 cyl turboed engines hauling around 3600 lb cars & trucks [we’ll see how long they last over the long haul] and more.

    Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good

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