(Adds industry outlook)
NEW YORK Oct 15 General Motors Co's [GM.UL]
turnaround plan assumes it can maintain slightly more than 19
percent of the U.S. market, board member Stephen Girsky said on
"The public plan is 19 percent and change. That is what
everything is being based on," Girsky said during a panel
discussion at a conference at Columbia Business School.
Girsky, who joined GM's 13-member board as a representative
of the United Auto Workers union when the automaker emerged
from bankruptcy in July, was responding to a question on what
GM's market share would be in three years.
The comments marked the first time a GM director addressed
the question of market share after the company took $50 billion
of emergency U.S. government support.
GM had 19.5 percent of the U.S. auto market in the third
quarter and a restructuring plan it announced in May was based
on the automaker maintaining an 18.5 percent share in 2009.
The automaker's share of the U.S. market has eroded
steadily for decades. GM held almost 29 percent of the U.S.
market in 2002.
Girsky, an independent consultant and former Morgan Stanley
analyst who was tapped as an adviser by both the company and
the UAW, said there is too much capital tied up in the
Automakers borrow money from their dealers, their
suppliers, their employees and their retirees, he said.
Meanwhile, the costs of closing down capacity are high and the
cost of entry for new competition is going down.
When asked about the success of Carlos Ghosn, who was
credited with reviving Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) after its
deal with Renault SA (RENA.PA), Girsky noted that one element
of his success has been that he was able to empower the so-
called "car guys."
"I do think there are car guys at GM," Girsky said. "It's
about empowering them."
Looking 10 or 20 years into the future as electric cars are
more prevalent, Girsky said he could see an industry where the
carmakers assemble the car, but the consumer focuses on branded
The buying decision could be based on who has the best
battery, or who has the best designers, he said.
19 PERCENT OF ?
General Motors has in the past said it expected 2010 U.S.
sales of 11.5 million vehicles, while other industry outlooks
have gone as high as 12 million or 13 million.
Experts on the two speaker panels at the conference made
some U.S. sales forecasts.
Thomas McLarty, a former White House Chief of Staff whose
family has owned car dealerships for decades, said he expects
vehicle sales of 12 million to 15 million in the next five
Stephen Toy, a managing director at WL Ross & Co, the
investment firm led by Wilbur Ross that has invested in the car
parts sector, believed sales would be in the 13 million or 14
million range in the "medium term."
Al Koch, a managing director at AlixPartners who is heading
the Motors Liquidation Company, or "Old GM," said he thought
capacity in the United States will probably be in balance at
about 12 million or 13 million.
Through September, U.S. auto industry sales were down 27.4
percent from a year earlier and are expected be above 10
million for 2009.
(Reporting by Caroline Humer; writing by Kevin Krolicki;
editing by Maureen Bavdek, Steve Orlofsky and Andre Grenon)