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通用汽车兴衰史

(2009-06-04 12:23:13)
标签:

通用汽车

兴衰史

历史

汽车

分类: 新闻
A Saga of Decline and Denial

通用汽车兴衰史

The beginning of the end for General Motors Corp. as an independent company began with a denial.

通用汽车公司(General Motors Corp.)作为一家独立公司的终结是以否认开始的。

Rick Wagoner, then GM's chief executive, stepped up to a podium in a Dallas hotel July 10 to address an audience of Texas business leaders, and outlined his view: The struggling car maker might have to sell its Hummer brand, but the rest of the company was safe. And as for Wall Street speculation of a bankruptcy filing, no way.

去年7月10日,时任通用汽车首席执行长的瓦格纳(Rick Wagoner)走向达拉斯一家酒店的高台上,向一批得克萨斯州商界领袖发表讲话。他概括自己的观点说,正在困境中挣扎的通用汽车可能要出售其悍马 (Hummer)品牌,但公司的其他业务是安全的。至于华尔街纷传的该公司将申请破产保护之事,那是没影的事。

'Reports speculating about bankruptcy,' he said, 'don't help anything and are completely inaccurate.'

他说,那些猜测通用汽车会破产的报导帮不了任何忙,完全是无稽之谈。

But over the course of the next 10 months, nothing could stem the company's slide. Mr. Wagoner was eventually forced out. By Monday morning the bankruptcy papers had been filed and the U.S. government was poised to own a majority stake in the company.

但在接下来的10个月中,通用汽车的处境却一日不如一日。瓦格纳本人最终也被迫离职。本周一上午,通用汽车终于提交了破产保护申请,而美国政府也势必成为这家公司的控股股东。

It was quite a drop. Once, General Motors was Microsoft and Apple and Toyota all rolled into one.

通用汽车摔得非常狠。曾几何时,这家公司是微软(Microsoft)、苹果(Apple)和丰田(Toyota)三家公司的总和。

GM set the standard of how a company should be run, how utilitarian products could be made cool and how they should be sold. It helped win a world war, drive American prosperity and reinvigorate business-school curricula.

通用汽车树立了企业经营标准、还在如何让实用性产品显得时髦和如何销售这些产品方面树立了标准。这家公司帮助美国赢得了一场世界大战,它促进了美国社会的繁荣并使商学院课程变得生动。

'Nobody else could cover the whole range of the marketplace like GM, not Ford, not Chrysler,' said Gerald Meyers, a former chief executive of American Motors Corp. and now a professor of business management at the University of Michigan.

美国汽车公司(American Motors Corp.)前首席执行长梅耶斯(Gerald Meyers)说,没有其他哪家公司能像通用汽车那样覆盖整个市场,福特汽车(Ford)不能,克莱斯勒(Chrysler)也不能。梅耶斯目前在密歇根大学(University of Michigan)担任商业管理教授。

In the end, though, GM was a victim of its own success -- its path to bankruptcy paved with the very management, marketing and labor practices that made it the world's largest and most profitable company for much of the 20th century. Strategies that had once been deemed innovative 'became a millstone on the whole company,' said Mr. Meyers.

不过归根结底,通用汽车是其自身成功的受害者。正是那些使它在20世纪大部分时间内成为世界上最大和最赚钱企业的种种管理、营销和劳工策略,铺就了该公司通向破产之路。梅耶斯说,那些曾经被认为具有创新性的经营策略变成了压在通用汽车身上的一块石磨。

Building a Giant

创建汽车巨头

Founded in 1908 by William C. 'Billy' Durant, a high-school dropout who had risen to president of the Buick Motor Co., GM was initially set up a holding company to acquire other auto makers. It soon took over Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Oakland, which would later change its name to Pontiac, and eventually Chevrolet.

通用汽车于1908年由杜兰特(William C. 'Billy' Durant)创建,这位高中辍学生一路奋斗做到了别克汽车公司(Buick Motor Co.)总裁。通用汽车最初是作为一家控股公司成立以收购其他汽车生产商。不久它先后收购了奥兹莫比(Oldsmobile)、凯迪拉克 (Cadillac)和奥克兰(Oakland)三大品牌,奥克兰后来改称庞帝克(Pontiac)。雪佛兰(Chevrolet)最终也被它收入囊中。

Under the leadership of Alfred P. Sloan, an Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained engineer who ran the company in the 1920s, the company pioneered a strategy for organizing its various divisions in a way that would fuel its growth for decades.

在麻省理工学院毕业的工程师斯隆(Alfred P. Sloan)的领导下,通用汽车率先采用了一种将旗下各个业务组织在一起的策略,这种策略在某种程度上推动了公司持续几十年的顺利发展。

The idea was to use the brands to offer a 'a car for every purse and purpose,' as Mr. Sloan described it. Chevrolet made affordable cars. Pontiac and Oldsmobile were progressively more upscale. Buick was a true premium brand and Cadillac the pinnacle of luxury. Together they formed a 'ladder of success,' allowing customers to move up as their station in life improved, without having to leave the GM family.

用斯隆的话说,这一策略就是让旗下的不同品牌满足各个收入阶层的各种用车目的。雪佛兰是普通人买得起的车。庞帝克和奥兹莫比则较为高档。别克是真正的高档品牌,而凯迪拉克则是豪华轿车。这些不同档次的汽车品牌组合成了一架“成功阶梯”,客户随着自己人生地位的提高可以依次选购不同品牌的汽车,永远都不会离开通用汽车。

Surpassing Ford

超越福特汽车

In 1932, a focused GM moved past its older rival, Ford Motor Co., to become the world's largest car maker -- a title it would hold for 77 years. By the late 1950s, GM alone had 50% of the U.S. auto market.

1932年,通用汽车一举超越其老对手福特汽车公司,成为世界最大的汽车生产商,这顶桂冠它一戴就戴了77年。到上世纪50年代末,通用汽车已经占据了美国汽车市场的半壁江山。

GM wasn't just immensely profitable. It was cool, too. The company's hot models, like the Corvette and Camaro, had the same cachet as the iPhone curries among today's younger generations, and inspired pop songs like 'GTO' and '409.'

通用汽车当年不仅是会赚大钱,它还很酷。那时的雪佛兰和Camaro等通用汽车畅销车型,就像当今的iPhone手机一样深受年轻人青睐,它们还催生了“GTO”和“409”等一批流行歌曲。

For a time, GM dominated so much of the American auto market that the government questioned whether it should use anti-trust laws to break up the company -- the same kinds of issues that plagued Microsoft Corp.

一度,由于通用汽车在美国汽车市场占据非常主导的地位,美国政府曾考虑是否应运用反垄断法分拆这家公司--就像微软现在正在遭遇的问题。

In the 1970s, trouble started. Japanese auto makers were gaining market share with well-made small cars, helped by two spikes in oil prices.

然而到了上世纪70年代,通用汽车的麻烦开始了。日本汽车生产商凭借制造精良的小型车逐渐扩大了市场占有率,而两次油价暴涨更为日本车助了一臂之力。

Blurred Identities

受损的品牌认同

GM's strategy of offering a multiplicity of brands started to fray. To cut costs, GM began stocking its makes with nearly identical cars. That blurred the differences between brands and made it hard for consumers to tell a Chevy from a Pontiac or a Buick.

通用汽车用不同档次多种品牌“抱团”打天下的策略也开始受挫。为了削减成本,通用汽车的各品牌汽车开始显得大同小异。这种做法混淆了不同品牌间的界限,让顾客难以将雪佛兰轿车与庞帝克和别克轿车区分开。

To confront the rising threat from foreign auto makers, GM in 1985 created an entirely new brand, Saturn, at a cost of several billion dollars. It was set up as a separate car company whose mission was to win back customers who had defected to foreign makes.

为了应对外国汽车生产商日益增大的威胁,通用汽车在1985年斥资数十亿美元创立了全新品牌土星(Saturn)。生产该品牌汽车的业务就像一家独立的公司,其使命就是将那些改用外国车的顾客拉回来。

By the mid-1990s, GM had added two more brands -- Saab, a niche auto maker based in Sweden, and Hummer, maker of hulking military vehicles. With so many nameplates to manage, and rising competition from the likes of Toyota and Honda Motor Co., GM struggled to develop enough new models for all of its brands. While spending heavily on new models to pump up Oldsmobile, GM let Saturn languish, and its sales shriveled.

到了90年代中期,通用汽车又增加了两个品牌──瑞典的小众汽车制造商萨博(Saab)和笨重的军用车辆制造商悍马(Hummer)。由于有如此之多的品牌需要管理,加上丰田和本田汽车(Honda Motor Co.)等公司的激烈竞争,通用汽车难以为所有品牌开发出足够的新车型。在投入巨资开发奥兹莫比新车型的同时,通用汽车让土星自生自灭,其销售也开始枯竭。

In 2000, Rick Wagoner was named CEO. He took the reins intending to reinvent the company. In one of his first moves, he decided it was futile to keep Oldsmobile. It proved costly, as GM had to compensate dealers who lost Olds franchises. Analysts estimated the tab at $2 billion.

2000年,瓦格纳被任命为首席执行长。他打算重塑通用汽车。他烧的头几把火之一是认为继续保留奥兹莫比尔品牌徒劳无益。这付出了巨大代价,因为通用汽车不得不补偿失去奥兹莫比品牌代理权的经销商。分析师估计这笔成本高达20亿美元。

To preserve GM's market share, Mr. Wagoner set out to revive Saturn and GM's other smaller brands. As part of that mission, he hired Robert Lutz, a former Chrysler CEO and renowned car guru, to develop a new generation of cars. Billions of dollars were allocated to the cause. The smaller brands -- Buick, Pontiac, Saturn -- would get first dibs ahead of GM's biggest and strongest brand, Chevrolet.

为了保住通用汽车的市场份额,瓦格纳开始振兴土星和其它较小的品牌。作为这项使命的一部分,他聘请前克莱斯勒首席执行长、知名的汽车大师鲁兹(Robert Lutz)负责开发下一代轿车。这个计划得到了数十亿美元拨款。别克、庞帝克和土星等较小的品牌都在通用汽车最强大的品牌雪佛兰之前获得了拨款。

A string of flashy new models conceived under Mr. Lutz showed up in the weaker brands. Pontiac and Saturn each got a roadster, the Buick LaCrosse, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura mid-size sedans arrived while Chevrolet had to wait for a new Malibu.

鲁兹为较弱的品牌构想的一系列令人眼花缭乱的新车型纷纷登场。庞帝克和土星推出了跑车,别克君越(LaCrosse),庞帝克G6和土星Aura中型轿车面市,而雪佛兰则不得不等待新的Malibu车型。

At the beginning of 2005, GM's business began unraveling. Years of heavy sales incentives had gutted its profit margins, and the company warned a significant loss was likely that year.

2005年初,通用汽车的业务开始告急。多年的高额销售激励措施吞食了公司的利润率,公司发布预警称当年可能出现巨额亏损。

By March, there were signs that some people inside GM might be having doubts about the brand strategy. At a conference of financial analysts in New York, Mr. Lutz described Buick and Pontiac as 'damaged brands' that had suffered as a result of too little investment in new models.

3月份时,有迹象表明,通用汽车的一些内部人士对这种品牌战略产生了怀疑。在纽约的金融分析师会议上,鲁兹将别克和庞帝克描述为因为在新车型上投入太少而“受到破坏的品牌”。

GM ended up reporting a loss of $8.65 billion for 2005. In 2006, Mr. Wagoner faced off in a boardroom battle with billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and his adviser, Jerome B. York, who had publicly called on GM to eliminate some brands and for a time had a seat on GM's board. Mr. Wagoner eventually prevailed, and by the end of 2006 Mr. Kerkorian sold his stake and Mr. York left the board.

通用汽车在2005年亏损了86.5亿美元。2006年,瓦格纳同亿万富翁科克里安(Kirk Kerkorian)和他的顾问约克(Jerome B. York)发生了董事会之争,后者公开要求通用汽车放弃部分品牌,并一度在通用汽车的董事会中获得了一个席位。瓦格纳最终占据了上风,科克里安在2006 年年底卖掉了他的股份,约克也离开了董事会。

GM's smaller brands, meanwhile, weren't gaining enough critical mass to generate returns. Between 2003 and 2007, Saturn, Saab and Hummer together averaged annual pretax losses of $1.1 billion a year.

与此同时,通用汽车的小品牌并没有达到产生回报的临界规模。 2003年至2007年期间,土星、萨博和悍马平均年税前亏损总额为11亿美元。

In February 2008, at a gathering of auto dealers in San Francisco, Mr. Wagoner said that any specific talk about killing brands was 'not a thoughtful discussion.'

2008年2月,在旧金山的一次汽车经销商聚会上,瓦格纳说,取消品牌的任何具体谈话都是“没有经过深思熟虑的讨论。”

The GM board wasn't so sure. By the spring, with gas prices soaring to $4 a gallon, sales of GM's Hummer SUVs were in free fall. The board was also concerned about the shadow Hummer cast on GM's image among consumers, people familiar with the matter said. Toyota was increasingly seen as the auto industry's technology leader because of its Prius hybrid. Hummer made GM seem like the gas-guzzler company.

通用汽车的董事会却不那么肯定。春季时,随着汽油价格飙升至每加仑4美元,通用汽车旗下悍马SUV的销售一落千丈。知情人士说,董事会还担心悍马投下的阴影会影响通用汽车在消费者当中的形象。丰田汽车则因其普锐斯(Prius)混合动力车而日益被视为汽车行业的技术领导者。悍马让通用汽车看起来像是一家耗油大户。

In early June Mr. Wagoner announced GM was considering a sale of the brand.

6月初,瓦格纳宣布,通用汽车正在考虑出售悍马品牌。

Around that time, Mr. Lutz sat down for lunch with Mr. Wagoner. Spiking gas prices and the global meltdown of mortgage-backed securities were creating visions of empty dealerships loaded with unsold inventory. Over sandwiches in the Ren Center, as GM's headquarters is known, Mr. Lutz told his boss, 'Rick, I don't like the way this smells. My gut tells me the economy is set up for a real collapse.'

大约在这个时候,有一次鲁兹同瓦格纳共进午餐。汽油价格飙升和全球抵押贷款支持证券的崩溃让汽车经销店异常冷清,积压了大量库存的汽车。在通用汽车的总部Ren Center吃着三明治,鲁兹对他的老板说,里克,我不喜欢眼下的情况。我的直觉告诉我,经济面临真正的崩溃。

Years of massive losses had left GM ill-prepared for a major economic shock. At the time it had about $21 billion in cash, but it was burning a billion or more each month.

多年的巨额亏损让通用汽车对经济的狂风骤雨准备不足。当时它拥有约210亿美元现金,但每月的消耗量就不下10亿美元。

Bankruptcy Speculation

破产传言

On Wall Street, speculation about GM's fate intensified. Merrill Lynch issued a report in early July headlined, 'GM Bankruptcy Not Impossible.'

在华尔街上,对通用汽车命运的猜测愈传愈烈。美林(Merrill Lynch)在7月份所发研究报告的标题是“通用汽车并非不可能破产”。

The cost-cutting effort remained incomplete as the Fourth of July approached. Just before the holiday, GM's top 20 or so executives gathered at Mr. Wagoner's estate in Birmingham, Mich., for a barbeque, people familiar with the matter said. It was an annual event for the CEO and meant as a social gathering where no formal business was to be discussed. Even though GM's fortunes were worsening, the usual rules held, these people said.

随着7月4日独立日的临近,通用汽车仍然没有完成成本削减工作。据知情人士透露,就在独立日前夕,通用汽车大约前20位高管参加了瓦格纳在密歇根州伯明翰的房子举行的烧烤活动。这是首席执行长瓦格纳的一次年度活动,也是一个社交活动,一般不讨论正事。知情人士称,即便通用汽车前景日益低迷,这个惯例在那次聚会上也延续了下来。

About a week later, a decision against cutting brands had been made. Although Hummer was under review for a possible sale, 'We don't have to eliminate any more brands,' he said to a group of Texas businesspeople.

大约一周之后,通用汽车作出了反对削减品牌的决定。虽然捍马(Hummer)当时接受评估,可能会被出售,但瓦格纳对一群得克萨斯州商人表示,我们不需要削减更多的品牌。

Wall Street wasn't convinced. Later that day, GM stock closed at $9.69, it's lowest point in 54 years.

但华尔街对此并不相信。当天晚些时候,通用汽车股价收于9.69美元,是54年来的最低点。

About two weeks later, GM reported a $15.5 billion loss for the second quarter and a plan to slash expenses and borrow several billion more. Ominously the company only said it had enough cash to last until the end of the year.

大约两周后,通用汽车公布第二财季亏损155亿美元,宣布计划削减支出以及再借款数十亿美元。不祥之兆的是,通用汽车表示其现金只能维持到年底。

Deal Talks With Chrysler

与克莱斯勒的交易谈判

A possible deal with Chrysler LLC deal seemed like it might achieve the savings GM needed. In early August, Mr. Henderson, GM's then-chief operating officer, and Chrysler President Tom LaSorda met to discuss potential synergies.

若与克莱斯勒(Chrysler)达成交易,通用汽车可能会达到所需的节支要求。8月初的时候,通用汽车当时的首席营运长韩德胜和克莱斯勒总裁拉索尔达(Tom LaSorda)进行了会谈,讨论可能的协同效应。

After the collapse of Lehman Bros. in September, auto sales plunged further. GM's talks with Chrysler were in full swing. The two companies estimated they could save up to $37.8 billion over a six year period. When news of the talks leaked out, many in the industry were confounded. GM already had too many brands, the thinking went. What would it do with Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep if it merged with Chrysler?

在雷曼兄弟(Lehman Bros.)9月份崩溃之后,汽车销量进一步大幅下降。通用汽车与克莱斯勒的谈判当时正进行得如火如荼。两家公司预计它们可能会在六年内节省至多378亿美元的成本。但当谈判消息泄露之后,很多行业内人士都感到困惑不解。他们认为,通用汽车已经有了太多的品牌,如果和克莱斯勒合并的话,该拿克莱斯勒、道奇 (Dodge)和吉普(Jeep)品牌怎么办?

By November, however, the GM board was growing increasingly concerned about the auto maker's deteriorating finances, and the talks with Chrysler were halted. Just before Thanksgiving, Mr. Wagoner and the CEOs of Chrysler and Ford asked Congress for billions of dollars in loans. The GM CEO told Congress a bankruptcy filing was unthinkable. Customers wouldn't buy from a bankrupt auto maker and the company would collapse, he said.

但到了11月份,通用汽车董事会越来越担心公司不断恶化的财政状况,因此中止了和克莱斯勒的谈判。就在感恩节前夕,瓦格纳和克莱斯勒以及福特的首席执行长向国会申请数十亿美元的贷款。瓦格纳对国会表示,申请破产是不可想像的。他说,消费者不会购买一个破产汽车厂家的产品,公司会崩溃的。

The reaction was harsh. Lawmakers slammed the CEOs for flying corporate jets to Washington, grilled them on how exactly they'd use taxpayer money, and pushed them to cut their own salaries to $1 a year.

国会作出了强硬反应。议员们猛烈抨击三位首席执行长乘坐公司专机来华盛顿的行为,严密逼问他们具体会怎样使用纳税人的资金,而且迫使他们将自己的年薪降到了1美元。

On the first day of December, they returned for a second appeal, this time with more detailed turnaround plans. Mr. Wagoner acknowledged GM would run out of money by the end of the year. But he also continued to assert that bankruptcy could not be an option.

12月的第一天,三位首席执行长再次来到华盛顿参加第二次听证会,这次他们带来了更为详细的业务扭转计划。瓦格纳承认通用汽车可能会在年底前耗尽资金。但他也继续声称公司不可能考虑破产。

On one point he had changed his view. As part of GM's turnaround plan, the company would cut some of its brands. Saab, like Hummer, would be sold, Pontiac's model line would be trimmed to one or two cars. GM would look into options for Saturn.

瓦格纳一度改变了观点。作为扭转计划的一部分,通用汽车将会放弃部分品牌,和捍马一样,萨博(Saab)品牌也会被出售。庞帝克(Pontiac)的产品线可能会被缩减至一到两个车型。通用汽车还将考虑土星的出路。

Turnaround Plans

业务扭转计划

Five days before Christmas the Bush Treasury Department provided bailout loans to GM and Chrysler and told them to come back in February with tougher turnaround plans. When the plans arrived on Feb. 17, the Obama Treasury Department was getting its auto task force into place.

就在圣诞节前五天,布什政府财政部向通用汽车和克莱斯勒提供了救助贷款,要求两家公司今年2月份带着更为严格的业务扭转计划回来报告。两家公司2月17日提交计划的时候,奥巴马政府财政部的汽车特别工作组正在到位。

Over the next few weeks, the task force members ramped up on the auto industry and studied GM's turnaround strategy. The more it learned about the industry, however, the more concerned members became about GM's future profits and market share, people familiar with the matter said.

接下来的几个星期,特别工作组的成员加紧研究汽车行业,推敲通用汽车的扭转战略。但据知情人士透露,工作组成员对汽车行业了解的越多,就越担心通用汽车的未来利润和市场份额。

On March 27, GM officials traveled to Washington to discuss the matter. In a one-on-one meeting, Steven Rattner, the Wall Street financier who is heading the task force, told Mr. Wagoner GM's latest turnaround plan 'doesn't cut it,' and informed Mr. Wagoner the government wanted him to resign, a person familiar with the matter said.

3月27日,通用汽车管理人士奔赴华盛顿讨论此事。据一位知情人士透露,在一对一的会谈中,负责工作组的华尔街金融家拉特纳(Steven Rattner)对瓦格纳表示,通用汽车最新的扭转计划难以奏效。他告诉瓦格纳,政府希望他辞职。

Mr. Henderson, the COO, was named the new CEO, and readily acknowledged bankruptcy was probable. Over the next several weeks, task force members pushed GM to go 'faster and deeper' in its restructuring -- and to look at shedding more brands. Eventually, Mr. Henderson agreed to close down Pontiac all together, but dug in on his heels to keep Buick and GMC.

原来的首席营运长韩德胜被任命为新任首席执行长,他很快承认公司很可能会申请破产。在接下来的几个星期中,特别工作组成员促使通用汽车更快更深地实施重组,并考虑削减更多品牌。韩德胜最终同意完全关闭庞帝克品牌,但坚持要保住别克(Buick)和GMC品牌。

On Monday GM filed papers for Chapter 11 in New York.

本周一,通用汽车根据破产法第11章在纽约申请破产保护。

JOHN D. STOLL / KEVIN HELLIKER / NEAL E. BOUDETTE 

http://chinese.wsj.com/gb/20090602/ffe112320.asp

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