There's a new General Motors today aggressively reshaping itself to compete in the emerging connectivity/car sharing/autonomous space.
Evidenced by its willingness to sell Opel, New GM is unsentimental and, in the words of President Dan Ammann, "ruthless in our decisions."
But sometimes it's difficult to see New GM. Old GM gets in the way.
It's hard to overstate how radically GM would be redefining itself if it abandons Europe and reallocates capital toward more promising uses.
The auto industry arose out of Europe and the U.S. more or less simultaneously, and the U.S. industry has had a reflexive Europhile bent since then. How many LeManses, Cavaliers, Monte Carlos, Sevilles, Lucernes and Rivieras have we seen? At GM, a posting to the European headquarters in Zurich was a key step for many a rising executive.
After its bankruptcy, there was a lingering fear that GM could snap right back to being its old self. One former GM exec told me post-Chapter 11 that "Rick and Fritz would have made money with this balance sheet, too," referring to former CEOs Rick Wagoner and Fritz Henderson.
Laudably, New GM rejects the attitude that a quick rinse was all the company needed. It's a strikingly forward-thinking enterprise.
But Old GM keeps photo-bombing New GM. Witness the draft legislation for autonomous vehicle testing, developed with input by GM, circulating around U.S. statehouses.
The bill says that only established automakers could test self-driving vehicles on public streets -- that is, not Waymo or Uber. After protests, the resulting law in Michigan was loosened to bless tech companies. But other states are considering more restrictive bills.
Frankly, it's hard to see this as anything other than an attempt to limit competition.
If you traced the genealogy of this initiative, it would go back to the GM that had private detectives tail Ralph Nader in the 1960s.
Very Old GM, in other words.