Unquestionably, the biggest news in the auto industry in 2013 occurred last week, when the chairs at the table at GM World Headquarters began to be shifted around.
CEO Dan Akerson is retiring on January 15, and the GM board is putting Mary Barra, executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain, into Akerson’s office (although Barra will not be chairman of the board, as Akerson is).
Akerson, Barra, Ammann, & Reuss
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America operations, will get Barra’s job. Alan Batey, who heads up Chevy’s sales and marketing in the U.S., will take Reuss’s office. Dan Ammann, executive vp and CFO, will become GM president. Steve Girsky, who heads up Europe, will find something else to do with his time (though he is to remain on the GM board for a few months).
One of the biggest critics of the moves and the alleged machinations behind them is Peter DeLorenzo, the man behind, and the man who personifies, Autoextremist.com. He knows the people. He knows the industry. He knows things that other people don’t know. And he’s not pleased by what Akerson and the board have wrought.
But after all: if you’re going to be the Autoextremist, it’s not like you’re going to go along to get along, are you?
DeLorenzo explains part of what goes unexplained in this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” where he is joined by Autoline’s John McElroy, Matt DeLorenzo of KBB (yes, he’s related to Peter), and me.
In addition to which, GM’s announced future closing of its manufacturing operations in Australia, GM’s selling its stake in PSA (which may have had something to do with the aforementioned anticipated departure of Girsky) VW of America’s change in CEOs, Alan Mulally’s odds on going to Microsoft*, the North American Car of the Year finalists, and a whole lot more are debated, analyzed, dissected, and even laughed about in one of the best hours you can spend staring at your computer screen. This is essentially the live feed, so stick with it to the bona-fide start:
*While Mulally leaving Ford would most certainly be a huge story, it wouldn’t be as big a story as the GM changes unless, of course, there were extenuating circumstances, like a trade between Ford and Microsoft, with Steve Ballmer coming to Ford (after all, Ballmer is a Detroit guy) to take over for Mulally. . . .