Economic pessimism is dampening spirits at the show. But Jack Smith, chairman of General Motors, still sees healthy sales in 2001 — more than 16 million units. Staff Reporter Richard Truett and Executive Editor Peter Brown interviewed Smith at the show.
We've got a lot of new stuff ourselves. So we should do fairly well. The key is that we are not driven by share. We are driven by profitability. We are driven by volume, obviously. And we are driven by product success. Those are the key ingredients. Share is a residue of that. We'll have heavy volume with the (Chevrolet) Avalanche, and we have all the mid-sized utilities. Admittedly, there are a lot of other mid-sized utilities coming to market this year. It's too early to tell where the market is going to run, but we're looking at a 16.5-million-unit year including heavy duties. That's the third-best year. We have to get our inventory aligned, but I think it will be a good year.
Who made the decision to kill Oldsmobile?
It wasn't my initiative, but I am a team player.
You have been the nonexecutive chairman since May. How long are you going to stay?
I don't have an answer for you. I continue in that role.
How is GM going to compete against the Koreans?
They have the bottom of the market, and nobody can compete against those guys. They could go out of business tomorrow. I don't get too worried about the Koreans. But there are other legitimate players here, and they are expanding their product lineup. It's a tough, competitive game. We've got to have great product.