A 'New' GM Emerges From Bankruptcy

Fritz Henderson, president and CEO of the new General Motors Co., holds a news conference. i i

Fritz Henderson, president and CEO of the new General Motors Co., holds a news conference Friday on the automaker's emergence from bankruptcy at GM's Detroit headquarters. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
Fritz Henderson, president and CEO of the new General Motors Co., holds a news conference.

Fritz Henderson, president and CEO of the new General Motors Co., holds a news conference Friday on the automaker's emergence from bankruptcy at GM's Detroit headquarters.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In Focus

Read an NPR interview with Bob Lutz, GM's new vice chairman.

GM, By The Numbers

U.S. Brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC

 

U.S. Dealerships: About 3,600 by the end of 2010, down from 6,000 this spring

 

U.S. Plants: 34 by the end of 2010, down from 47 in 2008

 

U.S. Employees: 64,000 at the end of 2009, down from 91,000 at the end of 2008

 

U.S. Debt: About $11 billion, a cut of more than $40 billion in total obligations

 

Source: General Motors

GM Headquarters i i

One bankruptcy expert called GM's 40-day case the fastest ever for a company of its size. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
GM Headquarters

One bankruptcy expert called GM's 40-day case the fastest ever for a company of its size.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Who Owns The New GM?

The common stock of the new General Motors Co. will be owned by:

 

U.S. Treasury: 60.8 percent

 

United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust: 17.5 percent

 

Canada and Ontario governments: 11.7 percent

 

The old GM: 10 percent

 

Source: General Motors

General Motors Corp. emerged Friday from bankruptcy after just 40 days, shedding much of its massive debt and vowing to streamline product lines, cut senior management and make the customer "the center of everything" to right the troubled automaker.

The new GM — smaller and less burdened by the staggering debt that nearly sent it to liquidation -– will become "customer centered," CEO Fritz Henderson told a news conference in Detroit.

"At the new GM, we're going to make the customer the center of everything. And we're going to be obsessed with this, because if we don't get this right, nothing else is going to work," he said.

Through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, GM — once the world's preeminent automaker -– shed massive debt and burdensome contracts that would have sunk it without federal loans. GM's bankruptcy was even shorter than rival Chrysler Group LLC's, which took 42 days.

The new GM is 61 percent owned by the U.S. government. Despite cutbacks, the company still employs 88,000 people in the U.S. and 235,000 worldwide.

GM has said it will be able to make money even if the U.S. auto market stays at a depressed level of 10 million to 10.5 million vehicles sold per year.

Among other planned changes is a massive streamlining of upper management that would eliminate 35 percent of senior positions — or 450 jobs, including the North American president position, executives said. Many others would receive substantial pay cuts, they said.

GM would focus on fewer but better automobiles.

"To win, we need to stabilize and, in fact, grow our business around the globe and particularly here in the United States," Henderson said. "That means building more of the gorgeous, high-quality fuel-efficient cars, trucks and crossovers that consumers want and getting them into the market faster than ever before."

One "customer centered" initiative is a partnership with eBay that would allow people to buy vehicles by auction online or choose a "Buy It Now" option, he said, promising that the move would "revolutionize" the way people buy cars.

He said the company is also road-testing its innovative hybrid Chevy Volt, which it expects to get to market by the end of 2010.

"Our vision is clear: to design, build and sell the best vehicles in the world — something that GM was known for many years ago and something that we need to re-establish," he said.

Henderson also said the automaker is launching a "Tell Fritz" Web site to allow owners and the public to share their concerns with senior management, and he plans to go out on the road every month.

"Business as usual is over at General Motors," he said.

Bob Lutz, a legendary industry executive, is "unretiring" to become a vice chairman responsible for all creative elements of products, marketing and customer relationships, Henderson said. Lutz had previously planned to retire at the end of the year after more than four decades in the auto business.

"Where we really messed it up and took our eye off the ball in terms of the product was in the '70s, '80s and early '90s," Lutz told NPR host Robert Siegel in an interview to air on All Things Considered. "And I think in the last five or six years, we've had a radical transformation in the way we approach the product and our goals for product."

New Chairman Edward Whitacre Jr. said GM's bankruptcy had been difficult. "There have been a lot of long hours, there have been a shuttering of plants, there have been painful layoffs," he said.

In addition to the U.S. government's controlling interest in the new GM, the United Auto Workers union gets a 17.5 percent stake of the company through its retiree health care trust, and the Canadian government will control 11.7 percent. The remaining shares went to bondholders of the old company.

The parts of GM not moving to the new company will become part of "old GM," a collection of assets and liabilities that will be sold to pay creditors.

From NPR staff and wire service reports

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