So Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors, is asked in the June issue of Motor Trend magazine (not online) which decision he most regrets as CEO. His answer is appropriate, what with a certain documentary coming out soon, and it’s under the fold.
Rick Wagoner’s most-regretted decision:
Axing the EV1 electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids. It didn’t affect profitability, but it did affect image.
Gee, if only someone had warned Wagoner that fuel efficiency was going to be an important factor for consumers in the future. If only someone had asked — begged, even — to preserve the EV1. Certainly Wagoner wouldn’t have ignored a public outcry like that!
What’s truly upsetting is that by Wagoner’s own admission here, cutting the EV1 didn’t affect profitability. If Wagoner is to be believed, GM would have been no worse off today (admittedly, no great shakes there) if they’d kept the EV1 going.
So why cut it? Honda has kept the barely-produced Insight along as a branding exercise. Why wouldn’t GM want the same with the EV1, considering the number of lovable celebs who were out hawking it?
People tend to call us paranoid when we suggest that GM killed its own revolutionary design in a gross act of corporate malfeasance — collusion with oil companies and a fear of obsolescence. It may be just a slip of the tongue, but if Wagoner means what he says, then the conventional explanation — the EV1 was a money loser — just became inoperative.
What does that leave?