Sunday, August 06, 2006

GM Goes Green

The new plant Sean's working is the most environmentally friendly plant in the world. This week they were awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's program -- the only automotive manufacturing plant to receive LEED certification.

Not that you heard any of this amazingly good news on the news or read it in the paper. I swear, if I could change one thing about GM right now it would be their PR people. They suck, to put it mildly. The LEED certification is a huge deal, and could be played to the nth degree to all those people buying Priuses and electric cars.

For that matter, do you see any ads from GM promoting their Chevrolet Aveo? I certainly haven’t. And it’s a great little car. A four-door for under $10,000 that averages 34 miles per gallon … Why isn’t the company promoting that car all over the web, TV, radio, college campuses, newspapers, everywhere! Toyota is beating GM to death and, to a large degree GM’s public relations/advertising people are just taking it.

Sean is so passionate about his company and believes that American cannot afford to become a service economy. In his words, “We can’t all shine each other’s shoes. Our economy cannot survive if we don’t create a product.” So when I read such depressing news about GM I get truly heart-sick.

There are lots of folks who say, “Well, I bought a Honda that was made in Ohio. So it’s American-made.” Only technically. Yes, the plant in Ohio is a boon for that local economy. But big picture, the profits go back to Japan, not America.

Ugh. I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that for the last 14 years I’ve been driving GM cars and have had zero problems. Unfortunately, GM (and the other domestic car companies) is still sowing what they reaped in the 70’s. And, it seems, most Americans aren’t willing to give GM a second chance.

Here are some excerpts from three local papers about the new plant:

"At first glance, the new General Motors Corp. Lansing Delta Township assembly plant complex looks like any other: a sprawling building surrounded by an equally large parking lot. But upon closer inspection, the plant is quite unlike any other GM facility." --Lansing State Journal

"At General Motors Corp.'s new factory on the outskirts of Lansing, 800 robots weld and paint vehicles in the dark. Furniture from shuttered plants has been recycled for use at 350 work stations. And rainwater is used to flush toilets. The $1.5 billion, 2.4-million-square-foot facility, which GM bills as the world's greenest auto plant, incorporates a host of environmentally-friendly innovations that helped save 20 percent on construction costs and will make the factory less expensive to operate. 'This is not your ordinary plant,' Elizabeth Lowery, GM's vice president for environment and energy, said Thursday during a media tour." – The Detroit News

"Working desperately to win back customers, make money and improve its public image, General Motors Corp. showcased a new assembly plant on the outskirts of Lansing on Thursday that could become an impressive focal point in the company's ambitious turnaround plan. The Lansing Delta Township Plant, which will begin making the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave crossover vehicles later this year, is expected to be one of the most efficient and technologically advanced auto plants in the world." --The Detroit Free Press