Cop-out: AP Reporter Swallows Claim that GM's R&D Was Set Back a Year by 40 Days in Bankruptcy

January 11th, 2011 10:26 PM

Man, it is getting really deep around here -- and no, I'm not talking about the snow, though there is no shortage of it here in Southwestern Ohio.

What's really deep is the claim by current Government/General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson that because of the company's government-engineered, unsecured bondholder-shortchanging trip through bankruptcy, "we lost roughly a year in terms of development."

The Associated Press's Tom Krisher apparently doesn't mind traipsing around in thigh-high boots while he's covering the Detroit Auto Show, as he displayed no skepticism whatsoever at the utter ridiculousness of Akerson's assertion, drily observing near the end of his report that "New products from GM were noticeably absent from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year."

For the record:

  • GM filed for bankruptcy on June 1, 2009. It emerged from bankruptcy with an opening cash balance in the tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money on July 10, 2009. That's 40 days, or less than one-ninth of a year.
  • The company has been out of bankruptcy for exactly 18 months, and it's admitting that it's still a year behind in product development.
  • There was not a hint that R&D would be compromised when the company emerged. In fact, the company clearly made representations to the contrary.

Pertinent to the final point just made, here are a few paragraphs from a July 10, 2009 bankruptcy emergence report by -- imagine that -- the Associated Press (Krisher was involved in earlier versions of this dispatch; bolds are mine):

At a news conference, CEO Fritz Henderson said the revamped automaker will be faster and more responsive to customers than the old one. It will generate cash and repay billions in government loans ahead of a 2015 deadline.


The new company will build more cars and trucks that consumers want and launch them faster than in the past, the CEO said. GM also announced a partnership with online retailer eBay to test auctioning vehicles online.


... Known for its sluggish decision-making process and bloated management ranks, GM will create a single, eight-member executive committee to speed up day-to-day decision-making, replacing two senior leadership forums.


... Top executives at the new company will focus on business results, new vehicles, brands and consumers.


... The new company will focus on customers, cars and culture.

What a load of rubbish that was -- as was Krisher's failure to note the obvious contradictions in Akerson's excuse-making today.

It's worth asking, especially if other products have been or are still being shortchanged, which presumptively appears to be the case, if the surely lavish level of resources the company has thrown at the Chevy Volt -- never mind the awards pouring forth from the green-crazy driving press -- has been worth it. Financially, I doubt it. To keep President Obama's car czars off their backs, it was probably necessary.

Cross-posted at