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Keynote: A Conversation with
G. Richard Wagoner, Chairman and CEO, General Motors

09/30/2004 9:40 Kresge
G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., Chairman and CEO, General Motors

Description: While he doesn't quite put all the cards on the table, GM Chairman G. Richard Wagoner, Jr. offers glimpses into his corporate strategy, and some perspective on GM's successes and failures. While Wagoner's kids call him a "technological troglodyte," he has taken what was once exclusively a car manufacturer into the world of the internet and informatics. One of GM's recent winners is the OnStar program, a car-based computer system that allows drivers to get directions, communicate an emergency, or more recently, book a hotel and make a restaurant reservation. Three million vehicles currently carry OnStar devices. But GM staked too much on internet sales of its car products. Says Wagoner, "If you swing for the fences, occasionally you're going to have an obvious strike." While he hopes more car buyers will "push the button on the internet," he says most prefer "to kick the tires frequently." With uncertainty around the availability and price of oil, the big issue for GM and fellow car manufacturers concerns the next generation of vehicles. Wagoner says GM is working on four different scenarios: improving current efficiency and emissions of the internal combustion engine; enhancing diesel engines; manufacturing hybrid buses and mid-sized cars; and if the economics work out, producing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles.

About the Speaker(s): G. Richard Wagoner was elected GM chairman and chief executive officer in May, 2003. He had been president and chief executive officer since June 2000. He is a member of the board of directors of General Motors Acceptance Corporation, a GM subsidiary. Wagoner began his GM career as an analyst in the Treasurer's Office in New York in 1977. After serving GM in Brazil, Canada and Europe, he was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of GM in 1992, and also had responsibility for worldwide purchasing from 1993 to 1994. He was elected president and chief operating officer in 1998 and had been executive vice president of GM and president of North American Operations since 1994. Wagoner received a bachelor's degree in economics from Duke University in 1975 and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1977.

Host(s): Office of the Provost, Technology Review

Tape #: 19014,

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated 9 months ago

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