Keynote: A Conversation with G. Richard Wagoner, Chairman and CEO, General Motors

author: G. Richard Wagoner Jr., General Motors Corp.
published: May 25, 2012,   recorded: September 2004,   views: 2177
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While he doesn’t quite put all the cards on the table, GM Chairman G. Richard Wagoner, Jr. offers glimpses into his corporate strategy, and some perspective on GM’s successes and failures. While Wagoner’s kids call him a “technological troglodyte,” he has taken what was once exclusively a car manufacturer into the world of the internet and informatics. One of GM’s recent winners is the OnStar program, a car-based computer system that allows drivers to get directions, communicate an emergency, or more recently, book a hotel and make a restaurant reservation. Three million vehicles currently carry OnStar devices. But GM staked too much on internet sales of its car products. Says Wagoner, “If you swing for the fences, occasionally you’re going to have an obvious strike.” While he hopes more car buyers will “push the button on the internet,” he says most prefer “to kick the tires frequently.” With uncertainty around the availability and price of oil, the big issue for GM and fellow car manufacturers concerns the next generation of vehicles. Wagoner says GM is working on four different scenarios: improving current efficiency and emissions of the internal combustion engine; enhancing diesel engines; manufacturing hybrid buses and mid-sized cars; and if the economics work out, producing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles.

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