GM CEO Akerson Responds to Criticism

Akerson photoGeneral Motors CEO & Chairman Dan Akerson has an op-ed in yesterday’s Detroit Free Press in response to the growing chorus of criticism of the company in general, and his leadership in particular.  It is rather typical corporate PR, complete with a Teddy Roosevelt quote.

One line is odd, though. Akerson (or his flak) writes:

I believe our culture is our “secret weapon” and is on the way to being a true difference maker for us.

So, how is GM’s culture,  according to Akerson?

A few days ago, Akerson had “expressed his continued frustration with the company’s inability to quickly shed its bureaucratic legacy,” saying “We’ve got to get this company and the culture into the 21st Century.”

Last month, Akerson was asked, “How much of GM’s culture has changed since before bankruptcy, on a scale of one to 100,” and he responded: “20, 25. We have a long, … Read More ➡

Fisker Recalls Karma; EV Maker Blasted by Rival Elon Musk

A123 logoThe electric vehicle fire in Woodside, Calif. about a week ago has led to the third recall in the short life of taxpayer-subsidized ($193 million in stimulus) Fisker Automotive and its plug-in hybrid model, the Karma.

The first two recalls were caused by problems with batteries produced by Fisker’s similarly troubled supplier and business partner, A123 Systems. The company said this time the fire was caused by a failure in a cooling fan, which caused overheating while the vehicle’s owner shopped for groceries inside a store. About 2,400 Karmas – 1,400 of which are in the possession of customers – will need to be recalled.

“We are committed to responding swiftly and decisively to events such as this to ensure total customer satisfaction,” said executive chairman Henrik Fisker. “This incident resulted from a single, faulty component, not our unique EVer powertrain or the engineering of the Karma. As … Read More ➡

Auto Bailout Legacy: GM’s European Nightmare

Steve GirskyThree years into their forced marriage with GM, the American taxpayers have seen the value of their investment in GM deteriorate by approximately $24 billion, largely due to continuing European losses. Exposure in Europe has contributed to crushing the value of GM’s stock due to its chaotic and failing Opel unit in Germany. While government, journalists and Wall Street sympathizers have given the Obama Administration and GM leadership an almost incomprehensible pass on this value destruction and massive loss (presumably due to the macro-economic nature of the crisis), it’s time to call for the accountability that this new Board was supposedly going to deliver. 

Overlooked is that the value-destroying, cash-sucking disaster that is GM Europe was packaged and ready for sale to new European buyers in 2009 before the new Obama GM Board of Directors slammed the brakes on the deal, throwing GM into its current value free-fall. In fact, the decision to not … Read More ➡

DOE’s Derelict Judgment Makes Abound Solar a Tax Scofflaw

Abound logoBankrupt manufacturer Abound Solar, which is liquidating despite having received $70.9 million in taxpayer-backed loans from the Department of Energy, may leave government services in its former Weld County, Colo. home in trouble because of diminished property tax revenues.

The Greeley Tribune reported last week that Abound owes nearly $1 million for this year and by next year will have accumulated $1.8 million in county tax debt. As a result various school, public safety and other government services departments will have to look at budget cuts. The school district where Abound’s taxes went to, in St. Vrain Valley, will have to absorb more than a half-million dollars in lesser revenues because of the company’s failure.

Every county, city and community deals with property tax losses due to foreclosures and business closings, but the Abound Solar/Weld County example is one in which an unworthy company, that was the beneficiary of crony Read More ➡

New Fisker Fire, While Taxpayers Cover Utility Bills for Empty Plant

Fisker logoAnother government-funded electric vehicle has burned.

This time it’s the second fire in a Fisker Karma, which received $193 million out of a $529 million award from a Department of Energy loan guarantee before the cabinet agency cut the company off for failure to meet still-undisclosed milestones. This blaze (video), according to a report on the automotive Web site Jalopnik, occurred in a Woodside, Calif. parking lot while its owner was inside a store shopping for groceries.

In another development, the State of Delaware has been stuck paying more than $400,000 in utilities bills for a vacant factory that Fisker was supposed to occupy and use to manufacture its next electric car model, the Atlantic.

As for the fire, Fisker has acknowledged the incident. 

“We have more than 1,000 Karmas on the road with a cumulative 2 million miles on them,” the company said in a statement published … Read More ➡

VIDEO: Bailed-Out GM’s Future in Doubt

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was interviewed by Tom Sullivan about GM’s future on Fox Business Network on August 11. Here’s a transcript:

Tom Sullivan: Joining me now is an Associate Fellow at the National Legal and Policy Center, Mark Modica. You follow this GM story carefully.

Mark Modica: I sure do.

Tom Sullivan: Do you agree with the other Mark about the fact that GM is looking pretty good right now?

Mark Modica: I agree with some of the comments. The European situation is a mess, so that is an overhang there. As far as the government getting out – no professional investor would say that you base your exit of owing a stock on what you paid for the stock. The government should have been out of GM. They had the opportunity over a year ago to sell their stake – the taxpayers stake. At … Read More ➡

Taxpayer-Funded A123 May Get a Chinese Bailout

A123 logoMonths ago, after they issued their most recent dismal quarterly earnings report, A123 Systems officials announced they would explore options in order to save the company, leaving the impression they were looking for a buyer. 

On Tuesday the heavily subsidized electric vehicle battery manufacturer released its latest financial bad news, but also disclosed that it also had a potential buyer – from China. According to media reports, just as A123 reported another $82.9 million in second-quarter losses, good news also magically materialized as Wanxiang Group Corp. was announced as a new investor. A123 had reported recently to the Securities and Exchange Commission that its ability to continue as a viable company was “a going concern.”

The good news/bad news announcements continue a trend by A123 in which every time the company has a negative media hit or stock downturn, a new press release comes out to give the … Read More ➡

VIDEO: Taxpayers Fund ‘Ridiculous’ Chevy Volt Village

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was interviewed by Gerri Willis on the Fox Business Network on August 6. Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis: Moving on to a story, I know you are going to love. “In Focus Tonight,” the Chevy Volt village. An entire town dedicated to the controversial taxpayer backed car that so happens to spontaneously combust in flames. The government is teaming up with the private sector to test out its green agenda by dumping these Chevy Volts on an entire community. And did I mention you are helping to pay for this? Joining me now is, Mark Modica with the National Legal and Policy Center. All right, Mark, what is going on here?

Mark Modica: Hi Gerri, yes, this is called the Pecan Street Partnership. Funded with $10.4 million of taxpayer money. Edmonds dubs it Chevy Volt ville. They are giving away not only the … Read More ➡

Military Buying Chevy Volts as Glitches Surface

It seems that the supply of taxpayer money available to support the Chevy Volt is never ending. Add the Department of Defense to the list of agencies tapping into the seemingly endless taxpayer funds to purchase Volts, as reported by Stripes.com. The US Military is buying Volts just as a recent poll at GM-Volt.com reveals that over 12% of Volt owners have had electrical problems with the vehicle.

A Marine Corps (pronounced “kawr”, not “kawrps”) Air Station in Miramar California received a couple of the Volts last month. Chris Manis, deputy director of installations and logistics, spoke of the Marines’ green mission when he stated, “Our goal is to reduce our needs of fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” adding, “We can cut back and still execute the missions we need to complete.” And all this time I thought the military’s role was to protect the country.

Miramar … Read More ➡

Obama Boosts GM With Fleet Sales; Localities Buy Police Cars With Federal Money

Government MotorsGeneral Motors announced an increase in government purchases of 115% in July. This follows June’s jump in government fleet sales of 79%. Just what’s going on? GM has claimed that it is localities (mostly for police vehicles) and not federal purchases driving the increases, but aren’t localities struggling with their budgets? Why do the nation’s police forces all of a sudden need new vehicles? A little research uncovers that the Obama Administration is once again being generous with federal grants to localities to purchase new cars, with one of the primary end recipients of taxpayer money being GM.

It seems dubiously orchestrated that GM would make sure that they attributed the unusual increase in government fleet sales to localities rather than federal purchases. It’s almost like money laundering where taxpayer money gets filtered though grants to localities and then gets back to GM via purchases of police vehicles and … Read More ➡

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