New York Times: G.M. at 100: Is Its Future Electric?
The timing of the Tuesday event is fortuitous, for much more is riding on the Volt than whether a new model using experimental technologies will be a hit. For if the Volt succeeds, it could put the troubled company on a whole new path after 10 decades tethered to the internal-combustion engine. If it fails, it could drag G.M., and perhaps the entire struggling American auto industry, even further behind Asian competitors.
It was on Sept. 16, 1908, that William Crapo Durant filed the incorporation papers that formed G.M., with a revitalized Buick as its foundation. The centennial should be a time of joy at the company. But, with losses since 2005 approaching $70 billion, and Toyota having accelerated past G.M. into the No. 1 spot in global auto sales, the company’s staff won’t be dancing in party hats.
Instead of toasting the glory days when G.M. owned half of the United States car and truck market — its share peaked at 51 percent in 1962 amid suggestions that it should be broken up under antitrust laws — G.M. executives are looking .expectantly ahead to November 2010. That’s when the Volt, expected to break cover this week in close to final form, is due to reach customers. ...