Making cars these days is like playing poker: You've got to have chips to play. But will it help if you know the guy who runs the casino?
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson picked up the phone recently to call Rich Beyer, CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, the No. 2 supplier of automotive computer chips. No surprise, since all automakers have been scrambling for chips since production at Freescale and its rival, Renesas Electronics, were crippled by the earthquake in Japan.
But Akerson has an inside track. Before taking the helm at GM last September, Akerson was on Freescale's board.
"We can't rely on one source," Akerson said of GM's chip supply. "So I picked up the phone, I called the CEO of Freescale and I said, 'I know you make chips of this type.'"
They discussed the chip maker's products and the possibility of supplying GM, Akerson said last week during an industry event prior to the New York auto show.
It's not clear if this contact gives GM an inside track for the scarce chips. Akerson didn't say what, if any, agreement was made, and a Freescale spokesman also declined to say whether the call produced results.