Car Pro Sound Off: Re-Writing Ford & GM Mission Statements

sound off Car Pro

When I take on special projects, or testify as an expert witness in an automotive case, I charge anywhere from $250 to $500 per hour depending on the complexity.  However, I am going to offer up to Ford and General Motors, for free, a new mission statement for them to follow.  I think it is perfectly OK for them to use the same one.  Here goes:

Our mission is to build cars, trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles that people desire to purchase, at an affordable price, never forgetting that top-notch quality will keep us all employed.

I thought lessons had been learned by both these car companies, but apparently not.

When I was Ford National Dealer Council Chairman, I saw Ford spending billions of dollars on dot.com startups, car dealerships, salvage yards, body shops, and even a golf cart company, all of which were major flops.  Call me stupid, but I suggested time and time again:  Why don’t you guys stick to what you are good at and put the time and resources into what Henry Ford started?

In case both companies have forgotten, you flew private jets, along with Chrysler, to ask for bailouts.  I would suggest that the money lost on these ridiculous ventures was greater than the amount needed to bail the companies out.  We know the rest:  Bill Ford made a brilliant move hiring Alan Mulally and he saved the company, GM and Chrysler got a lot of government money and softball bankruptcies.  To be fair, both companies paid back the vast majority of the money.

Fast forward to today.  We just found out that this week, Ford spent 40 million dollars to purchase an electric scooter company, and GM announced recently it would begin to build and sell electric bicycles in 2019.  I must be a moron, but if I ran an automaker, I don’t think I’d build alternatives to the car, but that’s just me.  When Ford was named Ford MOTOR Company and GM was named General MOTORS, I don’t think the founders were thinking electric motors.

In another brilliant move, GM is trying to buy off 18,000 workers with more than 12 years experience.  Coming off a fantastic 3rd quarter of well over a 3 billion dollar profit, GM wants to buy off its most experienced employees.  It wants to purge the very people who helped them get through the darkest time in its history.  Translation:  Dinosaurs go away, we only want people with expertise in making anything but cars.  If your beanie has a propeller on it, we’ll hire you and pay our tenured people to go away.  GEEZ.

Last year, Ford spent one billion dollars on a company named Argo AI, to develop virtual drivers.  Bear in mind, that amount did not buy the company, it was just an “investment” to be a partner.  Yes, a billion dollars as an investment into something we don’t even know there is a market for. Ford spent 65 million on Chariot, a shuttle van startup.  Burn that cash!

There also appears to be much talk about a Ford merger with Volkswagen.  Remember Daimler and Chrysler merging?  Disaster.  Not to mention that automotive mergers are never actually mergers.  One company runs the other, then they eventually split up again.  Ford, do you think you were good for Mazda?  Do you think you are almighty?  Let’s see…after you bought and lost your ass selling Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and Aston Martin, those car companies went on to record sales and record profits, post-Ford.

GM is no better.  Not long ago, GM spent one billion dollars acquiring Cruise Automation, yet another self-driving car company, with a total outgo over time of 3.35 billion dollars.  Are you really buying something tangible, or an app?  May I suggest you GM execs take a tour of your own OnStar facility?  You guys have been doing this for years, with success.  If my GM car is stolen, you can find it immediately.  It seems to me you already have a lot of technology at your fingertips.

Bottom line:  Ford and General Motors, wake up!  You are spending all your time working on ventures we are not even sure anybody gives a damn about.  Look at history. and you don’t have to go back more than 20 years.  Never lose sight of the fact that you only have one customer, your dealers.  If you want to see a car company focused on product, quality, and technology look no further than little Subaru and study what it is doing.

Kudos to Fiat Chrysler, I have not seen the crazy, reckless spending on third party companies I have witnessed from the other two Detroit-based companies.  It continues to concentrate on building great vehicles that people want, as evidenced by strong Jeep and Ram sales over the past year or so.

Free advice for GM and Ford:  When you start to stray away from your core business, refer to the mission statement I gave you and you’ll continue to be successful.

Photo Credit: Kannika Changsalak/Shutterstock

 

37 Comments
  1. Retail My Ride 1 month ago

    Jerry. Wow, we love the new “fire in the belly” series. Off to a good start. The sad thing is they never seem to learn. I could share enough behind the scenes perspective on GM to keep you writing full time. Wish could find my masters thesis from 1987 where I wrote about the wrong path good ole Roger Smith was taking GM at the time. Then in the 90s there was Rick Wagner. Roger and Rick were the one-two punch that put GM on the mat. EV1, Oldsmobile closing, Saturn, selling GMAC. The list goes on and on.

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      RIGHT ON! I don’t know why the auto industry doesn’t see that history repeats itself, especially in the cases of its mistakes.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  2. Robert 4 weeks ago

    Jerry, your point is well taken. I can also see why GM and Ford are hedging some of their bets as it were. That aside, I’m disgusted at GM for another reason altogether. I know legal liabilities exist, but GM shucking out billions to odd investments is of much less importance to me than when they hid behind bankruptcy and shirked their moral responsibility to pay just claims to the families who lost loved ones due to knowingly providing faulty ignition switches which could and DID KILL so many innocent loved ones. As a corollary when I was with a BMW dealer we got a phone call from BMW, N.A. stating all cars with a particular engine could without warning shut down in any driving scenario. All sales persons had to drop what they were doing and immediately get on the phone and call each customer to tell them do not drive the car at all, PERIOD, and other arrangements would be provided immediately. GM’s behavior, on the other hand, was no better than a food company sending out poisoned food to unsuspecting familiess and not saying anything as the dead bodies began stacking up in the morgues. To me, GM leaving the rail and investing in X,Y or Z is small potatoes. As far as I’m concerned if they want to they can invest all their money in buggy whips. Robert

    An unrelated postscript to the above: To any person interested in buying a car or truck Jerry knows of what he speaks.

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      Robert, I hear you. We covered the ignition switch issue closely on our website and in the newsletter. It was a travesty of epic proportions. Too often, car companies go into defensive mode to try to cut their losses, this was one of the biggest examples. I agree, they should have handled it very differently. This type behavior is not unique to the auto industry.

      I appreciate the kind words.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  3. David L Wolf 4 weeks ago

    Wow… what a badly needed and well versed missive to both Ford and GM, Jerry! And, speaking of moronic decisions and priorities, the newest clown CEO at Ford, James Hackett, has (as you are painfully aware) decided to completely abandon the sedan production lines with the exception of the Mustang. If it were up to me, I’d downsize HIM and, rather than completely shutting down production of the sedan model lines, I’d simply slow production down to meet whatever demand remains. We all know that these SUV, pickup truck and sedan sales are very cyclical. We also know that if a sedan production plant is shuttered, it will cost many more tens of millions of dollars to re-tool and re-open these plants once the sedan cycle starts to click back up. Common sense?

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      David, right on my friend! You have a keen sense for the auto industry. I wish Bill Ford (and I said this on the air) would just step up and say he made a bad hire. He did that with Nasser, but way too late. I hope he wakes up sooner this time.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  4. Mary Matthews 4 weeks ago

    I surely hope Ford and GM take your advice!!! You are a wise man, Jerry. Thanks. Enjoyed the article!

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      THANKS Mary! I do too! Thanks for being in the show family!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

      • Gerry Marker 4 weeks ago

        Well said, Jerry! I was a Ford employee all through the years of them thinking they could buy and dominate every facet of the auto industry. What sad and foolish years. When they hired Mulally, I thought they had finally come to their senses. Apparently I was wrong because when he left they went right back to what I call their ” Napoleon Mode “. I’ve been retired from Ford now for ten years and still have a blue oval tatooed on my behind but, I am seriously worried about their future.

        • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

          Thanks Gerry, I agree. Mulally saved the company, Fields just stuck with what Mulally did, which was smart, and now Ford has another Nasser at the top.

          Very sad state of affairs, and like you, I invested most of my life to Ford.

          Jerry Reynolds, President
          Car Pro Radio Network

  5. doug 4 weeks ago

    This was classic and right on.

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      Thanks Doug! I appreciate the kind words and thanks for listening.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  6. Steve 4 weeks ago

    Love the new feature. You nailed it. As a life long Ford guy , I am saddened to see the direction Ford had chosen in the post Mulally years. Keep the sound offs coming.

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      Thanks Steve! I will do these when I see any automaker doing stupid things that should be SO apparent. Ford has done so many dumb things in the past year or so, they are probably going to give me plenty of subjects for the future.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  7. Jack Willis 4 weeks ago

    I own a Ford F150. My concern is about being priced out of buying a new one which I have done every few years. The sticker price on my 2016 XLT was roughly $6000 more than my 2013 that I previously owned that had more “stuff” on it. Maybe all this money that is not spent on making Fords has something to do with that. Surely inflation isn’t this bad. Maybe I should look at a Toyota even though I love my Ford.

    • Car Pro 4 weeks ago

      Jack, I hear ya. I’ve been talking about this on the air. Many automakers, in particular Ford, has jacked their sticker prices up the past few years, but at the same time, they’ve increased rebates big time, which is why the sticker prices have gone up so much. The NET price isn’t much greater than a couple of years ago, as long as you purchase while the incentives are at a peak, like the end of the year.

      Hope this helps!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  8. Ricardo Guerra 4 weeks ago

    Jerry. I just have one question. If Bill Ford ask you to run Ford Motor, just the automobile division, not the other stupid divisions they own. Would you do it? As a Ford buyer, and for the sake of the american Ford workers, I wish you would. Keep on coming, Jerry.

    • Car Pro 3 weeks ago

      Ricardo, thanks for the kind words. Honestly, I would do that under certain conditions…that I had actual control to make changes, that it was only a three year commitment, and it woud be VERY lucrative.

      SO the answer is yes, I would do it, but I have worries about being asked. Thanks for listening.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  9. Judy Sursely 4 weeks ago

    All the money GM is spending could been given back to every GM employee who lost insurance, stock, every other perk they had when they filed banks.
    Now want to buy out older high making employees, let me guess that doesn’t start at the top.
    I would never by a GM vehicle just for above reasons. End of rant.

    • Car Pro 3 weeks ago

      Thanks Judy, always good to hear from you! I share many of your sentiments.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  10. George 2 weeks ago

    Jerry, your best word in the article….. “GEEZ”.

    George from Sherman

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      HAHAHAHA! Thanks George!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  11. Denny Brackeen 2 weeks ago

    Having driven both Ford & GM products over 3 million miles in my sales and marketing carrier, I have learned there is good and bad in both.
    A basic rule my Grandfather passed along many years ago is, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, unfortunately many new hire CEO’s and Engineers do not understand this basic rule. They are consumed with making changes they think prove their worth, versus attacking things that are “broken”.
    Long time listener Jerry and have learned much from you, keep up the great work!

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thank you Denny. I probably oversimplify things, but the business is not complicated. Do your homework, build vehicles people want, make a profit. That’s it!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  12. Bob 2 weeks ago

    Jerry…………………You nailed it square on it’s raggedy head!

    All of the auto companies have lost sight of what the CUSTOMERS want!
    Majority of management within the car companies are EDUCATED IDIOTS!

    The only good thing I see happening is Chrysler with their HP cars as well as Ford.

    The old saying still holds true….”Keep it SIMPLE…stupid”.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see any of the auto companies taking good, cheap advice for the future.
    SAD!!

    Henry Ford is probably turning over & over in his grave while screaming…”YOU dumbasses!!”

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thanks Bob, I appreciate the vote of confidence! I can’t imagine Henry would be very pleased with the direction of his motor company.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  13. Jim Ginder 2 weeks ago

    Jerry you, as usual, are right on target. It is all a matter of applying valid logic and common sense as the bottom line to big business decisions. One would think, by now, that after GM tinkered with Geo, Saturn and other spin-off companies, they would have learned more than they have regarding knee jerk actions and “global” concepts that are expensive and doomed to failure.

    I am nauseated from being continuously forced fed a diet of electric autos, charging stations, globalism, ozone layers, and human caused climate warming (now conveniently referred to as climate change due to a string of abnormally cold winters). I would like to know what climate changes occurred during a 1000 year period beginning in 2000 B.C. or any other 1000 year period throughout earth’s existence.

    It appears the traditional enjoyment of driving a V8 sedan is about to become history. Next to go will be the V6. It is all sad and disheartening for me to witness.

    You have been providing a great service to automobile buyers seeking accurate and honest information prior to making a purchase. For that I offer you my sincere appreciation and thanks.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for the kind words Jim. I do my best to educate the car buying public. I realize I don’t have all the answers, but nobody does. I just try my best to give honest answers based on experience.

      Always let me know if I can help you.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  14. Jeff 2 weeks ago

    Everyone should send a letter to General Motors and let them know how you feel. I guess my next purchase will be anything but a GM vehicle. I have been a lifelong GM owner and am tired of corporations screwing the American workers after taking our tax dollars. This just proves there is no USA dedication at GM.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      I think it would be good for those who disagree to let them know. Not sure it will do any good, but you never know.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  15. Byron Hodged 2 weeks ago

    Jerry, you are absolutely correct in everything that you have said. I have bought GM cars for a number of years. I am always looking for a smooth ride, and as you have told me in the past, I am not going to get it. I saw a T-shirt that pretty well sums up the thinking of GM and Ford,
    It said “ I would like to help you, but I can’t help stupid”.

    Thank you for all you do for the motoring public. You provide a great service. Looking forward to your radio program this morning.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thanks Byron, really appreciate you listening!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  16. Mike 2 weeks ago

    Completely agree. I’ve been a GM owner for decades, and their actions make me want to trade in my Buick for a non GM car now!

  17. ROBERT COTTERMAN 2 weeks ago

    I BOUGHT MY FIRST CADILLAC IN 1954 AND I HAVE ALWAYS OWNED 2 CADILLACS. THRU THE YEARS I HAVE TALKED 125 FRIENDS INTO BUYING CADILLACS. ALL WENT WELL THRU THE YEARS, UNTIL GM CLOSED DEALERSHIPS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. MY DEALERSHIP WAS ONE MILE FROM MY HOUSE AND IT WAS CLOSED. I NOW HAVE TO DRIVE 18 MILES TO THE CLOSEST DEALERSHIP AND I AM IN THE LA AREA. BECAUSE THEY CLOSED THE LOCAL DEALERSHIPS, I NOW ONLY HAVE 8 FRIENDS WHO STILL DRIVE CADILLACS. MOST SWITCHED TO THE LOCAL MERCEDES, BMW OR LEXUS DEALERS. MY WIFE AND I NOW PLAY A GAME WHEN WE ARE DRIVING, SEE WHO CAN FIND AN AMERICAN CAR FIRST. I CAN TELL YOU WE DRIVE A LOT OF MILES BEFORE WE SEE ONE.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Interesting observation Robert. Thanks for sharing!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  18. Mike Clewner 1 week ago

    That Ford retiree from Kingwood,Texas.Read your mission statement.If I was still at Ford,your mission statement would be posted on my wall under the Blue Ford logo in my office.Right on target.
    On another subject.Heard a podcast with Jim Hackett.Convinced he is looney tunes.Wonder if he shares a brain with Jac Nasser?Hackett wants Ford to become a technology company.Guess we know what is going to happen to Ford.Like when Nasser was in control, the emperor has no clothing on, but no one has the guts to tell him.

    • Car Pro 1 week ago

      Hey Mike, I agree 100%, it’s scary to hear Hackett talk, he’s all over the board. There are plenty of technology companies out there, and Ford can’t compete with that. Again, stick to what has made you successful. Makes me shake my head.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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