GM Cuts Pencils, Batteries, Handy Wipes...But Keeps Jets

WSJ: Over the past several weeks, engineers and technicians working at General Motors Corp.’s sprawling proving grounds west of Detroit started noticing a curiosity: an increasing number of wall clocks had the wrong time, or stopped working altogether.

The reason: As part of a drive to cut $15 billion in costs, GM is no longer keeping the 562 clocks in working order, which will eliminate the expense of replacing and disposing of the clock’s batteries and the cost of resetting them twice a year for daylight-saving time.

It’s not the only new measure GM is taking to save every last nickel. In its Renaissance centre headquarters, employees working late have to climb stairs when navigating its labyrinth of lower floors — the company now stops the escalators at 7 p.m. In designated cleanup areas of certain offices, the company has changed the type of wipe-up towels it buys. In a memo to employees, a staffer explained this will lower GM’s “cost per wipe.”

Like GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC are slashing costs. Earlier this month, Ford said it will cut its North American salaried work force by approximately 10%, and is trimming its capital spending, manufacturing, information-technology and advertising costs. GM and Chrysler have both halted or slowed work on new vehicles to cut development expenditures. Neither company held news conferences at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, a standard function at such shows.

At GM, though, the penny-pinching is visible at the microscopic level, from cheaper pencils to elimination of voice mail in the plants.


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