GM executive steers discussion toward the future of the automotive industry.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of the American automotive industry hangs in the balance.

No one can predict the future, but Troy A. Clarke, president of General Motors (GM) North America and GM group vice president, believes reinventing the automobile—and the business that supports it—is possible.

At a recent Wertheim Lecture attended by faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of the business community, Clarke addressed the audience head on, asking for a show of hands in answer to three provocative questions: How many believe the American automotive industry is suffering from a period of decline? How many believe American automakers are designing more fuel-efficient cars than some of the foreign brands? And how many have concerns about the quality and reliability of American cars?

“GM is determined to change your perceptions,” he said. “Past perceptions are just that—in the past. We are reinventing the automobile today—and our company right along with it.”

Busting myths about GM.

Clarke framed his discussion around five prevalent industry myths:

  1. GM and domestic car companies lag behind foreign imports in style and design.
  2. Domestic quality and reliability don’t match the imports.
  3. All GM makes are gas-guzzlers and all GM wants to sell are big trucks and SUVs.
  4. GM cannot compete in the world market.
  5. GM is not responsive enough and is not a player in the future of the global automotive industry.

He then went on to present compelling arguments and examples that debunked each myth, point by point.

Odalys Girado (BACC ’95), senior business director with Miami-based Right Hire Staffing Solutions, Inc., found the lecture informative and exceptionally relevant to everyone in the audience.

“Clarke presented interesting concepts and was willing to take the discussion to the next level, tackling what are clearly tough challenges for GM and other American automakers,” she said.

Lecture series hits on timely topics.

As a member of the Florida International University (FIU) Alumni Association, Girado finds the Wertheim Lecture series valuable for several reasons.

“It educates us on extremely timely topics,” she said. “What’s more, the lecture events provide an excellent opportunity to network with others in the local business community.”

The lecture took place on October 1, 2008, in the college’s Ocean Bank Auditorium. The Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series has brought distinguished speakers and experts in business leadership and entrepreneurship to campus since 1993.

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