Photo: Wikimedia Commons
With the eurozone in crisis, the future of General Motors lies in Russia, according to Chief Executive Dan Akerson.”Russia today has about 100 cars per 1,000 people. The U.S. is about 812 and Germany is 628 cars per 1,000 people,” Akerson said Thursday in Chicago, where he received the International Executive of the Year award from the Executives’ Club.
Akerson said General Motors has lost more than $14 billion in sales in Europe over the last 12 years. The company, he said, is in negotiations with German union leaders that would allow it to consolidate plants and minimize the impact of the euro zone crisis.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we are making more progress than probably anybody else because we are viewed as the most aggressive,” Akerson said.
But GM is investing $1 billion over the next five years in Russia to raise production capacity to 350,000 vehicles. Akerson was in Russia last week at a groundbreaking at the automaker’s St. Petersburg plant. The company plans to more than double production capacity there, to 230,000 vehicles annually, by 2015 and increase its workforce by 1,500, to 4,000 workers.
Russia, the world’s seventh largest automobile market, is projected to become the largest auto market by 2015. It has a population of about 140 million people and a GDP of $10,440 per capita, according to The World Bank.
“Russia is a really interesting country. I mean, it has got some issues to manage,” Akerson said, adding that he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin while he was in the country. “That was interesting,” he joked.
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