General Motors lags behind in Europe

Stephen Beard Feb 16, 2012

Adriene Hill: Today, General Motors is revving up to reveal how
much money it made during the final three months of 2011. The company is expected to report it’s speeding ahead here in the U.S. But in Europe, the road’s been bumpier.

From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: It was business as usual for GM Europe last year. Sadly, that meant the company lost money again. It’s lost some $15 billion here over the past decade. Same old problem: too many cars, and not enough customers.

Now, there’s the additional drag of the European debt crisis further depressing demand. And the contrast with GM’s handling of its U.S. operations could not be starker.

Here’s professor David Bailey of Coventry University Business School:

David Bailey: In the U.S. market, General Motors has been through a very deep restructuring. It’s been supported very heavily by the government, been through Chapter 11, offloaded debt, closed plants, and offloaded unprofitable brands. It’s not been anywhere near such a deep restructuring in Europe.

Other European carmakers like Fiat are also struggling. GM tried to sell its European unit three years ago, but the sale fell through. GM was worried its technology would fall into the hands of Chinese or Russian rivals. Protecting that intellectual property is proving expensive.

In London, I’m Stephen Beard, for Marketplace.

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