Richard Wagoner, General Motors Corp.'s CEO-in-waiting, offers a reassuring message to dealers.

"If we didn't have dealers, we'd have to invent them," he tells Ward's Dealer Business magazine.

Still, it won't be business as usual, not with e-commerce becoming such a force.

Mr. Wagoner, who takes the helm of the company in June (current CEO John Smith remains as chairman) is big on the Internet.

GM wants to leverage e-commerce to get closer to customers, suppliers, dealers and everyone else it does business with, says Mr. Wagoner.

But he's careful to reassure dealers that they'll be in the loop as GM uses the Internet to communicate with customers.

"I think we're doing a good job of getting everyone lined up," he says. "There are going to be some changes in the distribution process, but dealers are an important part of it. Someone has to deliver the product."

How would he describe his management style?

"That's hard to say in a few words. But the structure we set up is that we want to keep things tight and de-layered."

That means taking full advantage of GM's size as the world's largest automaker, he says.

It also means acting fast as a corporation, says the tall and lanky former Duke University basketball player.

GM has always been big.

"But 'fast' is not usually a word associated with GM," he says.

Mr. Wagoner, 47, the youngest executive to head GM, intends to change that.