A new path for Gen­eral Mo­tors?

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESSBRIEFING - kladen­dorf@states­man.com; 445-3622

GM’s deal­ers say they are happy with changes, but they want it to make more cars and trucks for them to sell.

“We couldn’t find any­body bet­ter” than Whi­tacre, said Rox Covert, co-owner of the Covert group of auto deal­er­ships in the Austin area. “What’s dif­fer­ent is he can make a de­ci­sion. They could do that be­fore, but it would take two or three weeks. We can run our busi­ness now. We don’t have to wait two or three weeks or a month down the road.”

“He has al­ready made a lot of changes,” said Al­lan Miller, who owns the Miller-Starnes Chevro­let Buick deal­er­ship in Rock­dale. “We have dealt with the Gen­eral Mo­tors bu­reau­cracy for many years. It is so re­fresh­ing to see the new way of deal­ing with them.”

In­dus­try an­a­lysts say the Volt will be an im­por­tant im­age prod­uct for GM, al­though it will rep­re­sent a frac­tion of its sales.

“This is a re­ally big show­piece for GM,” said Mark Fitzger­ald with Strat­egy An­a­lyt­ics. “It is a great mes­sage to send that GM is back and this is the new GM.”

For cars such as the Volt to be­come part of a ro­bust U.S. mar­ket for al­ter­na­tive ve­hi­cles, Fitzger­ald said, man­u­fac­tur­ing costs need to come down or gaso­line prices need to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally.

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