GM needs green excitement

June 1, 2009 6:56:46 PM PDT
General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection Monday and announced plans to permanently close nine more plants around the country; three others will be put on stand-by. There will also be 18,000 to 20,000 employees that will get no protection from the courts.

MOST POPULAR: Video, stories and more
SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you

Half of the plants affected by the day's announcement are in GM's home state of Michigan, including two in Pontiac. Factories in Livonia, Flint, Ypsilanti, and Orion Township, Michigan will close or be idle, along with plants in Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, and Delaware.

No changes announced for NUMMI, the New United Motors plant in Fremont. Many wonder what it will take for GM to make a comeback.

Experts say the challenge for General Motors is to move quickly into next-generation technology by creating cars that set it apart from other carmakers.

"Consumers want and understand we need green, but it has to be green with excitement. It needs sizzle and green. If GM can capture the excitement of a GTO and the soul of a hybrid, it's positioned for the 21st century," says UC Berkeley auto industry expert Professor Harley Shaiken.

Skeptics worry, though, that GM has a history of moving too slowly. ABC7 aviation consultant Ron Wilson, a classic car collector, points out how his 1970 GTO only had disk brakes on the front wheels.

"It took General Motors years, 10 or 15 years to finally come out with a car with all four wheels that had disk brakes," says Wilson.

GM will also be distracted by the bankruptcy process. While it has ironed out deals with key creditors and the auto workers union, the court may create some bumps in the road to recovery.

"There can always be surprises. The judge could raise some sort of objection to not only the value or something else the parties didn't foresee. There could be creditors that raise objections," says bankruptcy attorney Tracy Green.

Consumer confidence will also play an important role. Mark Mathews drives a GMC truck.

"I've had mine for about five years. It runs great. I've put 144,000 miles on it and it's perfect. I'll definitely buy another GM truck," says Mathews.

Linda Bynum's next car may not be GM made. She drives a Pontiac, a line that GM will drop.

"It's kind of hard to be loyal to someone when you're not sure if they're going to be there later on," says Bynum.

The future of General Motors rests now with the bankruptcy court, its creditors, its labor unions and the government. Oh, and one other important group -- the consumers.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments