Back in the late '80's, I was a GM scholar and intern at the Mound Rd. Hydramatic plant and then the GM Technical Center in the Alternative Fuels Group. I have two brothers who still work at the GM Tech Center.
In the late '80's, GM was a dying company. Quality was low, union labor unproductive and the Japanese were eating away market share. After graduation, I choose to work at a GM subsidiary, Hughes Aircraft Co, to get out of the auto industry and leave Detroit.
As expected, GM has lost market share to every foreign automaker, especially those who built manufacturing plants in the US using non-union labor. About a year ago, I heard many financial analysts betting on whether it was 5 or 10 years before the US automanufacturers shut down (or at least their North American enterprises), so I was ready to write them off for good.
I like today's GM products, and have only bought Chevy's, since I get the huge discount through my brothers - 1989 Grand Am, 1997 Malibu and 2002 Avalanche, liking each on more than the previous, so I knew they had improved quality, but also knew that internal costs vs. foreign car companies made them non-competitive, even in their own market.
When I heard that the UAW finally accepted 71 cents on the dollar for longterm liabilities from GM, and allowed them to hire new workers at roughly the same pay as their competitors, I suddenly was hopeful that GM could compete. Then when I heard that GM was aggressively pursuing gas, diesel and hydrogen versions of the series hybrid (aka extended range electric vehicle) configuration to meet future CAFE requirements, I began to firmly believe that GM would more than compete, but would actually regain lost marketshare against their greatest foreign rivals - Toyota and Honda. The new CAFE standards work against the Japan's automakers' greatest weakness - innovation, and they will be too slow to respond to what the North American market would want to buy, if forced to be more efficient.
GM will lead all US automakers back to recapturing the majority of the US auto market with the fuel efficient cars consumers want most.