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Report: GM Plans Reorganization

General Motors Corp. plans a major reorganization of its North American operations that would dilute the marketing autonomy of four divisions, the trade weekly Automotive News reported Monday.

The reorganization would affect marketing, sales, and service at Chevrolet, Pontiac-GMC, Buick, and Oldsmobile, Automotive News said. Saturn and Cadillac would be excluded.

The plan is the latest in the No. 1 automaker's continuing effort to reduce the power of its divisions and provide a more cost-effective and coordinated way to market GM's many models.

The plan was being reviewed Monday by GM's board and was expected to be approved, with a formal announcement anticipated by Tuesday. GM officials declined to comment.

GM's goal was to end competition among the divisions and allow for more effective marketing by focusing GM's resources on its hottest vehicles, Automotive News said. GM has long had trouble shedding slow-selling models because each division tends to be protective of its own turf and brands.

Eventually, GM may consolidate Buick with Pontiac-GMC and Oldsmobile with Chevrolet, Automotive News said. That would ensure each division had light trucks to sell the fastest growing segment of the U.S. market.

"There will still be car divisions, but there will be realignments," GM spokesman Jim Farmer told the magazine. "If the board says it's a done deal, we will push ahead." Farmer did not return a phone call.

Automotive News said the plan would:

  • Set up separate offices to handle three responsibilities now handled separately by each division: sales and service; brand management and marketing; and customer service.

  • Establish a single field staff for handling dealers within each region. Currently, each division has its own field staff; those staffs total about 5,100 jobs.

  • Eliminate hundreds of customer service jobs in Detroit by establishing new call centers in Atlanta and Phoenix, and primarily using lower-cost high school students and graduates to handle calls. The customer service section traditionally has hired only college grads and has been a training ground for the field staff.

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