A Great Showing For Gm Considering

General Motors is at the bottom of the class again

--but gets an "A" for effort. That's from the latest report card on the North American auto industry by Harbour & Associates of Troy, Mich. Sure, GM's $355 profit per car or truck sold in 1994's first quarter lagged Chrysler and Ford (table). Plus, no GM facility is in Harbour's Top Ten most productive North American car and truck assembly plants. And yeah, to be as productive as Ford in assembly, engine, transmission, and stamping plants, GM would have to shed about 20,000 white- and blue-collar workers, Harbour says.

Still, it's quite a comeback. In 1989, Harbour said GM needed to let 60,000 employees go to match Ford in manufacturing. This year, seven GM assembly plants made Harbour's list of 10 most-improved plants. GM's companywide average manufacturing efficiency has improved 12% since 1992, while Chrysler's gained 6.5% and Ford's was unchanged.

GM has trimmed about $2,800, pretax, in per-vehicle costs from its operation since 1991, Harbour estimates. Of that, as much as $500 came from white-collar cuts. Perhaps an additional $350 came from the benefits of higher volume, Harbour figures--and the rest from lower parts costs and nonmanufacturing efficiencies.

                STILL LAGGING
      Company         Profit per    Change since
                    vehicle sold    full-year
                    in 1 Qtr 1994   1992
      GM                  $355    +$1,515 *
      FORD                $656    +$824   *
      CHRYSLER            $1,203  +$1,003
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