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Century-year-old GM falls

2009-06-02 18:22 BJT


Special Report: GM Reshuffles amid Auto Crisis |

After more than a century in business, this could be the end for General Motors as we know it.

The bankruptcy court protection has cleansed the hundred-year-old company of burdensome labor costs, unprofitable old factories and a boatload of debt.

General Motors turned one hundred years old in September 2008, just as the US economy was beginning to feel the effects of the credit crisis.

Despite its recent failures, GM once dominated the industry. Rising above competitors Ford and Chrysler, it built massive plants and provided hundreds of thousands of jobs.

During both World Wars, GM built defense products for the US government. The company hit full stride in the 1950s, capturing over 50 percent of US sales and was front and center in the American psyche.

In the 1970s and 80s, GM made some attempts at cutting edge technology. But its inability to keep up with more innovative foreign automakers like Toyota set the stage for plunging sales in the eighties.

But the firm bounced right back. In 1999 it sold 8.6 million vehicles more than any other automaker.

William Holstein, Author of "Why GM matters", said, "Imagine this, they took the Toyota lean manufacturing system and incorporated it and absorbed it and improved on it. So they almost eliminated the gap in terms of productivity, quality, reliability."

GM and its ties to thousands of suppliers, represented one percent of the entire US economy. The collapse of the giant has worried many people.

Conrad Cornelius, Michigan Resident, said, "I think about all people. You know they need jobs and if there is no General Motors they are not going to have any jobs."

However, analysts say an orderly bankruptcy that causes limited damage is the best case scenario. There is hope that it could re-emerge as a leaner, more flexible carmaker.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: