订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业 - 汽车

通用汽车成本攻坚战胜利在望

Doron Levin 2011年08月15日

通用汽车近日宣布,计划将全球汽车平台数量削减一半,同时减少引擎型号,以节约数生产成本。

    通用汽车(General Motors)近日宣布,计划将全球汽车平台数量削减一半,同时减少引擎型号。几十年来,该公司一直致力于削减生产成本,以节约数以十亿美元计的生产成本——曾象征着美国的繁荣昌盛的通用汽车一度沦落到破产境地,很大程度上正是因为白白浪费的生产成本过多。

    得到政府注资后,通用汽车得以轻装上阵,并实现盈利。可是,从去年起担任该公司首席执行官的丹尼尔•埃克森需要具备匈奴王阿提拉那样的决心,才能成功推行种种提高效益的措施——尽管它们很明显可以节约时间和资金,但肯定会受到这家汽车巨头遍布世界的海外部门的抵制。

    8月9日,埃克森宣布到2018年全球平台数量将削减到14个,现在则有30个,这意味着将来生产汽车的平台将更少、共享性更强。为了保留不同车型之间的设计差异,这些通用平台可进行调整,无需费时费力地重造工具和系统。

    思迈汽车信息咨询(CSM Worldwide)驻密歇根州诺斯维尔(Northville)分析师迈克尔•罗比内特评价道:“这是未来的潮流,通用汽车或许终于能实现长久以来的目标了。”他以通用的Celta小型车为例说,尽管这款车是巴西最畅销的车型之一,但现在的生产平台迟早会被弃用。他指出,当下一代Celta面世时,用于打造该车的基本机械架构将与即将在美国市场推出的超小型车雪佛兰爱唯欧(Chevrolet Sonic)相同。

    通用汽车今年稍早些时候任命玛丽•芭拉为全球产品开发总监,现在看来,这似乎是埃克森的妙招,旨在用管理层调整推进生产成本的合理化。如果芭拉来自产品开发部门的话,这属于常规升迁,可她原本效力于通用汽车的生产部门。

    从上世纪80年代起,打造通用平台、工具和供应链方面的不足始终是困扰通用汽车管理层的一大心病。丰田(Toyota)和本田(Honda)的生产工序相对简单,较为节约,从而影响深远地颠覆了汽车制造行业的经济环境。麻省理工学院(MIT)曾进行过专门研究,分析日本汽车产业的生产成本远远低于底特律同行们的原因,并写成了著作《改变世界的机器》(The Machine that Changed the World)。然而,当通用汽车高管们试图强调通用性时,他们往往在要求维持现状的强大压力下败下阵来。尽管有几次行动超越了计划阶段,最终进入工生产层面,但最终都归于失败。

    丰田旗下的卡罗拉(Corolla)是全球最畅销的车型之一,在全球各大市场,该车型大同小异,只有一些微调;卡罗拉生产厂可以从同样的供应商采购工具;熟练的经理人可以在不同工厂之间调动——所有这些都大幅降低了成本。与此形成鲜明对比的是,早期雪佛兰迈锐宝(Malibu)车型美国款与欧洲款的差异明显,白白浪费了许多开发成本。

    这一次,埃克森和芭拉有望借助全球各国推行的新监管标准实现目标,这些新标准更接近于欧美的安全、空气质量和油耗标准。罗比内特以新款Celta为例指出,新车型必须配置气囊,才能要满足巴西的监管要求,这就排除了沿用现行生产平台的可能性。今后就没有这样的外部助力了。

    通用汽车首席财务官丹•阿曼在上周二的电话会议上向分析人士透露,在生产方面厉行节约并提高效率是该公司财务稳定的关键。“目前总的来说,一切都在我们的掌握之中,”他说,“我们并不依赖于市场份额的大幅提高,也不依赖于经济复苏。过去,我们经常在启动产品计划后又将其取消,仅此一项每年就浪费10亿美元,就因为在已经开始的事情又开了倒车。”

    考虑到分析人士和其他人士仍在批评通用汽车,敦促其向丰田等其他世界一流汽车厂商看齐,阿曼的估计或许还有些保守。如果通用汽车这次能取得成功,带来的可能是望眼欲穿的投资者从来不敢奢望的利润。

    General Motors' plan to halve the number of its global vehicle platforms and reduce engine configurations is the latest in the automaker's decades-long push to save billions in wasted manufacturing costs -- waste that had a large hand in driving the American icon into a painful bankruptcy.

    GM (GM, Fortune 500) has fresh capital, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, and has achieved profitability. But Dan Akerson, GM's CEO since last year, will need the determination of Attila the Hun to impose the efficiencies which -- though they clearly save time and money -- are sure to be resisted by the automaker's far-flung overseas operating units.

    Akerson declared Tuesday, August 9 that the number of global platforms will shrink to 14 by 2018, down from 30 today. That means future vehicles will be built on fewer, shared platforms. To maintain design differences between models, those common platforms will be tweaked without requiring costly duplication of tools and systems.

    "This is the wave of the future," said Michael Robinet, an analyst for CSM Worldwide in Northville, Michigan. "GM may finally be able to accomplish what it's been trying to for a long time." He offered GM's Celta small car, one of the most popular in Brazil, as an example of a car now built on a platform that is destined to eventually disappear. When the next version of Celta appears, he said, it will be built on the same basic mechanical structure as the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, which is about to be introduced in the U.S.

    GM's appointment earlier this year of Mary Barra to run worldwide product development now appears to be a management move by Akerson designed, in part, to enable the rationalization of manufacturing cost. Barra came from GM's manufacturing organization rather than product development, which would have been a more conventional promotion.

    The difficulties of creating common platforms, tools and supply relationships have stymied successive GM managements since the 1980s. Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC), with their relatively simple and spare manufacturing practices, profoundly upended the economics of automaking. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology study that led to the 1991 book "The Machine that Changed the World" famously analyzed why the Japanese auto industry was building cars at much lower cost than Detroit. But when GM executives attempted to institute commonality, they often stumbled over resistance from an entrenched status quo. Attempts that made it out of planning and into factories, meanwhile, failed.

    Toyota's Corolla, one of the best-selling cars worldwide, is much the same in most parts of the world with only minor variations. Corolla plants can buy tools from the same suppliers and move skilled managers from one plant to another -- all of which cuts costs dramatically. In contrast, earlier versions of the Chevy Malibu actually differed from European models enough that they duplicated lots of development costs.

    This time, Akerson and Barra will be helped by new regulations worldwide that more closely emulate the safety, air quality and efficiency standards in Europe and the U.S. The new Celta, for example, needs an airbag to meet Brazilian requirements, Robinet said, which precludes using the current platform. Not so in future versions.

    Dan Ammann, GM's chief financial officer, said in a Tuesday conference call to analysts that more disciplined and efficient manufacturing is key to the automaker's financial stability. "All of the things we need to do are, by and large, in our control," he said. "We're not relying on heroic market-share gains. We're not relying on economic recovery. We think just on canceled product programs we've probably blown a billion dollars a year, just by pushing back on things that already have been started."

    Ammann's estimate was probably conservative, based on the criticisms of analysts and others urging GM to match world-class manufacturers like Toyota. If GM is successful this time, the payoff could be profits long-suffering investors never thought possible.

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏