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Another reason not to buy a GM car

The WSJ reports:

Starting Jan. 4, General Motors Co. plans to do something unprecedented in the U.S. car industry: It will run its assembly line here around the clock on a permanent basis.

While common in other industries, not even car-efficiency benchmark Toyota Motor Corp. operates its plants routinely with more than two shifts. Car-assembly lines need too much scheduled maintenance and restocking for such intensive production to make sense, many industry experts say.

Later in the article:

The Obama administration auto task force that oversaw GM’s reorganization last spring was startled to learn that the industry standard for plants to be considered at 100% capacity was two shifts working about 250 days a year. In recommending that the government invest about $50 billion in GM, the task force urged the company to strive toward operating at 120% capacity by traditional standards.

But industry manufacturing experts are skeptical, noting that the federal task force had limited automotive experience. “Do those guys understand the business?” asked Ron Harbour, whose Harbour Report is a widely followed analysis of auto-plant efficiency.

I think that was a rhetorical question. But don’t call it meddling, or being active. From a November news story:

U.S. President Barack Obama said today his administration did not want to meddle in the decisions of General Motors and said he was pleased GM may repay government loans sooner than expected.

Asked in a Fox News interview if he opposed the use of U.S. government bailout funds for an overseas operation such as GM’s European unit Opel, Obama said: “We are not going to meddle in GM’s decisions.”

“We are a shareholder but we are not an active shareholder,” he said while traveling in Asia.

“We have specifically said that we are not in the business of running a car company. We’re not getting involved in day-to-day management.”

I don’t think this is going to end well.


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