DETROIT â Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the ouster ofCo. CEO Fritz Henderson was a decision that was rightly made by the auto makerâs board of directors, and not the government.
But speaking during an event here to announce GMâs $336 million investment in Chevrolet Volt assembly at the auto makerâs Detroit-Hamtramck plant, Michigan Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and Sander Levin (D-MI) tell Wardâs last weekâs decision to remove Henderson should not be a mystery.
âHendersonâs departure raised more questions, especially for the working families, than it answered,â McCotter says on the sidelines here.
âPeople that work at GM should have been told, and I think they need to know the reasons. Because your whole livelihood depends on working at GM on the line or in the boardroom, you want to know whatâs going on, and this created more anxiety in an already uncertain time.â
But while taxpayer support requires GM to be accountable, the government should keep its distance from the auto makerâs day-to-day operations, Levin says.
Ron Bloom, head of the governmentâs autos task force, âwasnât going to get into this,â Levin adds, noting âitâs not up to members of Congress or the White House to tell (GM) what to do. Once we start down the road of involving ourselves in these decisions, thereâs no end to it. Itâs up to them, and we made it very clear.â
GM Chairman Ed Whitacre, who temporarily has assumed the CEO post while a search for Hendersonâs replacement gets under way, reportedly says he would like someone from outside the auto industry to assume the position.
However, pundits suggest federal pay restrictions likely will discourage talents such asMotor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, who was lured from aerospace giant Boeing Co. with a multi-million-dollar compensation package.
Levin is more confident. âThere are other ways to compensate executives, including issuing stock options,â he says. âEssentially, we more and more want people to be paid for performance.
âI think GM ought to be able to attract someone and pay them within the cap and say, âHelp with the transformation of this company, and youâll be adequately compensated if you succeed. If you fail, you wonât receive as much as you would have.ââ
Meanwhile, GMâs investment announcement today brings combined Volt-related expenditures in Michigan to $700 million, covering eight state facilities.
The Detroit-Hamtramck facility will be the final assembly location for the Volt extended-range electric vehicle. The site will utilize tooling from Grand Blanc,; lithium-ion batteries from GMâs Brownstown Township, battery-pack manufacturing plant; camshafts and connecting rods from Bay City, and stampings and the Voltâs 1.4L engine-generator from Flint.
The $336 million investment announced today will pay for upgrades at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, says Jon Lauckner, GM vice president-global planning.
âWeâre in the phase of installing the machinery and equipment in the body shop, in the paint shop and in general assembly,â he tells Wardâs. âItâs a brand-new vehicle based on our global compact-car architecture, so thereâs a fare amount of work that needs to be done.â
Lauckner says Volt development is on schedule and product and process validation vehicles are scheduled to roll off the line in the spring.
GM says it hopes to sell some 8,000 Volts in 2011, and eventually ramp up volume to 60,000 units annually.