This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:30 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: The Untold Story Of How… Rick Wagoner…. Saved GM? It's been about five years since the United States bailed out GM and everyone and their mama has taken credit for saving the company. President Obama. Steve Rattner. Ed Whitacre. Bob Lutz, kind of.
And most of those individuals, while standing up for the character of then CEO Rick Wagoner, all made it sound like his being forced to resign was important. Today, Forbes has a helluva a story from bankruptcy expert Jay Alix, who says it was actually Wagoner (and himself) who actually created the plan that saved GM.
This is so far from the tale told by Lutz in his book, Rattner in his book, Ed Whitacre in his book, and President Obama that, if true, makes Wagoner the quiet hero. A Cincinnatus who conquered through failure and returned back to his fields.
In March 2009 President Obama cited a "failure of leadership" as his reason for forcing out Wagoner. In fact, it was Wagoner's exercise of leadership through years of wrenching change and then simultaneously seeking government funding while developing three restructuring plans that put GM in position to survive the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression and complete its turnaround, which, ironically, became a key campaign issue in the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012.
The point Alix makes is that Wagoner and he actually designed the plan that inevitably split GM into two companies, with all the toxic assets going to one company and all the good stuff going to a new GM. He says that Wagoner had to hold on long enough to make sure the terms of his surrender included a $40-$50 billion loan, this special bankruptcy plan going into effect, and Fritz Henderson being named his replacement.
Compare this to Rattner, who said Wagoner had to go because though he was "likable, dedicated, and generally knowledgeable" he "set a tone of "friendly arrogance" that seemed to permeate the organization."
It does present an interesting case though: Did the guy who was key to the successful turnaround (well, so far) of GM take the fall for the company in order to save it?
2nd Gear: Honda Profit Up 46% It's the end of the third quarter, so time to talk profits and losses. From the AP we learn that revenue in the third quarter rose 27% while net income rose to $1.2 billion.
Profits are surging as the yen weakens against the dollar, so while car sales are falling in Japan they're rising elsewhere and becoming way, way, way more profitable.
3rd Gear: Hell, Even Mitsubishi Is Doing Better
Mitsubishi has held on just long enough for a miracle to save them and it's possible that they're going to find it in Abenomics (and as Hans Greimel points out they had a massive restructuring plan put in place).
They're actually one of the best positioned companies as their tiny minicars, a space where they've historically performed well, are more popular in a Japan that now can't afford nicer Japanese cars, and a popular export to emerging markets.
4th Gear: Happy Days At Chrysler, Sort Of
Amidst the IPO mess, the WSJ reports that Chrysler's third quarter earnings rose 22% to $464 million as people still want their cars.
This is great news for Fiat, which continues to suffer in Europe.
Not everything is great in Chryslerland, though, as they continue to lose U.S. marketshare at a slow rate and the Jeep Cherokee didn't roll out as expected. Also, a more valuable Chrysler isn't necessarily great for Fiat if they want to buy it.
Life in Auburn Hills is way too complex.
5th Gear: How Saved Is GM, Really? GM's profits fell 53% in the third quarter but… this is a good thing?
The one negative factor was that GM's rapidly growing International Operations posted a 61% decline in operating profit to $299 million.
The company's global pre-tax profit rose from $2.3 billion to $2.6 billion. Net revenue rose 4% to $39 billion.
GM is trying to be more profitable everywhere that's not America, where their profit was actually up $2.2 billion. That requires investment, so subtracting everything else they have to deal with (ahem Europe) and they're down to $698 million.
Reverse: Juicy Fruit!
October 30, 1893 is the last day of Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition, a great fair that celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in the New World and offered fairgoers a chance to see the first gas-powered motorcar in the United States: the Daimler quadricycle. The exposition introduced Americans to all kinds of technological wonders—for instance, an alternating-current power plant, a 46-foot-long cannon, a 1,500-pound Venus de Milo made of chocolate, and Juicy Fruit gum—along with replicas of exotic places and carnival-style rides and games.
Neutral: Who Actually Saved GM? Who do you believe? Who don't you believe?
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