Thanks To An Earthquake, a Tsunami, and a Bail-out, GM Will Be World’s Largest Automaker Once Again
Thanks to $60 billion+ in U.S. and Canadian funds that saved the company and a tremendous, once in a thousand years natural disaster that’s crippled Toyota production, General Motors will likely be the world’s largest automaker for 2011. GM was the world’s largest automaker between 1932 and 2008, before losing the title to Toyota in 2009. While the value of being the “world’s largest” anything is dubious, there’s no denying that some people think being the world’s largest is an accomplishment.
If you find yourself talking to a person who thinks GM’s sales title is some sort of accomplishment, I’ve got some talking points for you.
1. Who cares? Does being the world’s largest automaker come with some sort of technological or economic advantage? Does every GM vehicle owner get a $100 rebate check as soon as GM becomes the world’s largest automaker, or does their GM product get an extra mpg after the award is announced? There’s nothing noteworthy about this statistic other than the statistic itself.
2. All it took was a disaster. If Toyota’s production hadn’t been crippled by a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami, they might have been able to hold on to the “world’s largest automaker” title. It’s one thing to sell more vehicles than your competitor fair and square, but quite another when your competitor suffers a natural disaster. Sort of like a sports team winning a championship because the opposing team suffered an injury to their best player…we’ll always wonder what could have happened.
3. Bail out taints GM’s ascendancy. GM loyalists will argue that GM would have re-gained the “world’s largest” title regardless of Japan’s earthquake, and they could be right. It’s hard to know what could have happened. However, we can be 100% certain that GM wouldn’t be the world’s largest automaker were it not for a $60 billion dollar bail-out as well as a series of government-mandated rules that:
- Closed all of GM’s least profitable plants
- Consolidated billions of debt at pennies on the dollar
- Forced workers to take a significant cut in pay
- Suspended the rights of factory workers to strike
- Fixed all (or almost all) of GM’s cost disadvantages
Winning the “world’s largest automaker” award under these circumstance is sort of like winning a beauty contest judged by your own mother…losing would be more noteworthy.
4. Good riddance. The honor of being the “world’s largest automaker” seems to be more of a curse than a blessing. GM rode the title straight to bankruptcy, while Toyota suffered through a massive public relations disaster shortly after taking the title.
If this sounds like sour grapes from a Toyota fan boy, consider this: As consumers, we should care about resale value, ownership costs, quality, customer service, performance, etc. We should want the best vehicle available based on all of the criteria I’ve listed.
World’s largest automaker? Not on the list.
Filed Under: Auto News