Monday, July 17, 2006


111 Diversity

How’s this for multinationalism. You get a Lebanese guy from Brazil to run an industrial country in France and at the same time, another industrial company in Japan and THEN, to make things interesting, you put him in charge of a third industrial company, this one in Detroit.

What is your correspondent smoking, you ask? Nothing.

Here’s Carlos Ghosn auto genius of Lebanese extraction, born in Brazil, running Renault in France, Nissan in Japan and who denies he wants to run General Motors, but will end up doing so anyway.

You can’t make this stuff up.

There’s no doubt the guy knows his stuff. He turned one of these companies around when it was at death’s door and is working furiously to save the second.

GM is a cadaver. It just doesn’t know it yet. Carlos can’t save it, even though he would probably be the only real “car guy” left at such a high level in all of the US auto industry.

Renault owns a good chunk of Nissan, which is how Carlos got that job. The government of France owns a good chunk of Renault, which is how Renault had the money to buy a good chunk of Nissan.

So when this deal gets done – remember, everyone swears it’s not a buyout – the French government will have a good chunk of (giving them the benefit of the doubt) influence if not actual ownership of GM.

Alfred Sloan is spinning in his grave; Walter Reuther is laughing. If you think the UAW is tough, try the French production line guys – if you can get them to come back early from their vacation villas.

The Germans have taken over Chrysler. The French are taking over GM. That leaves Ford as the only truly-domestic owned car and truck maker. And Ford’s in the same kind of hot water GM is. Only worse.

Seen Bill Ford on the TV commercials hawking hybrids, safety and cars that run on corn? Cool. He’s the environmentally correct member of the Ford family.

Hey, Bill, how about putting some decent designs in the pipeline but not release them before they’re ready? (The Lincoln “Zephyr” resurrection didn’t work. So, smelling a bomb, they’re changing its name. But it’s still a bomb.) How about not killing models people really like and keep on buying (no more Town Cars after 2007?)

There are two main categories of customer for the big Lincoln: The Century Village, Florida crowd -- people who can’t see over the top of the wheel, can hardly reach the pedals and travel in packs at five miles an hour. And the limo-by-the-hour guys.

You can bet someone’s going to make wheels that fill the void.

As for the one man UN with the office in Paris and the office in Tokyo: he proves that diversity in and of the work place works.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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