08 March 2009

How to Save General Motors

In general, I say let GM tank. They have not kept current. A bail out to keep doing business as usual? I don't think so.

But let's look at GM's assets.
-It has huge manufacturing infrastructure - buildings, machines, networks of providers. There is a huge capital investment in this company.
-It has a tremendous intellectual capital. It has decades of experienced designers, managers, and manufacturing personnel. As a designer, my heart aches when I think about the loss of this capital. People with skill and imagination sidelined by regressive upper management.

What to do?
In WWII, these industries went to work building trucks and tanks and fighters and bombers. What do we need now?
-Massive quantities of wind turbines, tide turbines, hydro power and other ways of harnessing the kinetic energy of the earth to produce "clean cheap electrons." GM needs to put its core strength of manufacturing complex large machines to work solving the climate crisis.
-Toyota is building manufactured housing. This concept is accepted in Japan, and there is a great deal of innovation. Buckminster Fuller had this concept with his Dymaxion House. The contemporary manufactured house need have no resemblance to the double wide or the trailer home. Americans have an unimaginative prejudice against the concept. The manufactured housing made by GM should be highly efficient and completely green.

GM has the seeds of its resurrection, it has probably thought of them and discounted them years ago. It has relentlessly followed a narrow focus, rather than being the leader and innovator that it was at its founding. If it cannot change its course and innovate its way towards solvency without a massive taxpayer bailout, then let it die.