Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, said GM is taking risks with new products.
In an interview with Staff Reporter Richard Truett, he says that if that means the company misses the target sometimes - as with the Aztek - that is OK.
Who decided to terminate Oldsmobile?
I would say probably the two protagonists in making the call would have been Ron (Zarrella) and myself. Obviously, a lot of other people were involved in looking at the data, but as far as timing and final decision, I made the call.
Do you expect that it is going to wind down more quickly than originally thought?
I have a mixed view on that. Our approach is to try to set up something where the individual dealer has a huge role in deciding. Let's say he or she is in an area where we need another GM store and they are the right person, they may want to convert over quickly. If someone is going to wind down and get out of the business, they may want to do that more slowly. Each dealer will have an individual say in it because every dealer has a different situation.
What's the logic in acquiring more brands, such as Saab, Hummer and possibly Daewoo, only to let underperforming brands such as Oldsmobile wither?
I guess, obviously, we felt we had given Oldsmobile a very hard run. The general reaction to the product had been better than the sales of the product. I think that coming off the strongest year the U.S. industry has had and the fact that we couldn't make much money off that lineup led us to the view that it was probably a bridge too far. If we reallocated those funds to stronger brands, would it be better for the enterprise? The answer was yes.
Are you afraid of making mistakes with some of the products - Aztek, for example?
We don't like to make mistakes. But if the price of stretching and the fact that we have a portfolio of 70 or 75 products is worth it, I think that means you are going to overreach sometimes.
Did you walk away from the economic session with a good feeling of the Bush administration?
Very, very good feeling. I don't think he is doctrinaire, but I think he is committed to economic growth. I came away feeling better than when I went in.