Friday, May 16, 2008

General Motors' Quest to Become "Green Motors" - Maybe

On Thursday, Rick Wagoner, Chairman and CEO of General Motors came to San Francisco to speak about the future of the company and "green" auto technology. It's fascinating to think that not long ago, General Motors was a company beloved by most Americans, a symbol of the innovation, spirit, and the pleasant lifestyle typical of American culture. Today, it is the target of much criticism, when Wagoner must watch his words carefully and bring along a security outfit, for fear of protest. One did break out, but certainly nothing violent or warranting more security than was provided for Nobel Prize winning social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, who had none present at a Commonwealth Club event at the same venue, which he actually more than filled up.

I was actually looking forward to writing a positive review about GM and its efforts to become a leader in environmentally conscious auto manufacturing. Cynicism gets pretty boring. Yet, in Wagoner's carefully scripted speech, there was little to genuinely get excited about. In fact, GM's view of its strategy in green is well-captured in its advertising campaign that states "GM has the most models with EPA-estimated 30 mpg or higher highway fuel economy." We're fine, you're just not buying our cars.

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