CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- Wednesday morning’s Chicago Auto Show/Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) breakfast will start off the news conference activities in McCormick Place. This year, the gathering of media and industry executives will be addressed by Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.
“The auto show has a long tradition of topical and meaningful speakers for its keynote address,” said John Phelan, 2010 Chicago Auto Show chairman. “Mr. Reuss is deeply involved in the resurgence of one of the world’s great companies. To have his perspective and his insight—not to mention his well-known gregarious personality—as the start of our show is a real plus. We’re thrilled that he’ll be joining us.”
In December, Reuss held a Web chat for journalists that offered a terrific look into his mind and philosophy. Excerpted from that chat are some questions and answers.
As president of NA GM, what is going to be your priority?
• That is a good question.....I plan to have a small team (5 direct reports) that are laser focused on sales, marketing, OnStar, manufacturing, Canada, Mexico—Fritz (Henderson) had a lot more to do which he did well but there are only 24 hrs in a day for the man. Priority? Tell people about our cars and trucks, regain the confidence of the Canadian, American, and Mexican people. Sell and make some money!
• Well—dealers are gonna be my first activity-met with some Caddy dealers 2 nights ago. The legislation that is happening is a good thing—to bring integrity and the right decisions for the companies and the families of our dealers across the land—it is an opportunity for all of us to make the right decisions and move on. The relationship of dealers and customers is my highest priority. Period.
Are there any key products that you feel need to be accelerated to meet market demand or enter new segments?
• Ok the Volt is key for us all in North America. It is in fact creating a new segment and leapfrogging traditional hybrids. I have been spending a ton of my time in my old job on it—driving it (in rain—no, I did not receive volts) so I love it and we cant wait to have it here. I launched Cruze in Oz (Australia) and I cannot wait for it here as well—although we did not have the 1.4T we only had 1.8L and diesel—so all three will be really well received. I also like Z28’s.
How do you plan on making the relationship between dealers and customers stronger?
• Customer by customer, dealer by dealer, visiting folks in both of those worlds and start a grassroots effort to see them, talk to them, and take that knowledge and repair the relationships. I am not a fellow that strays much from the fundamentals of good business, great cars and trucks, and trust.
Is there any marketing plan pointed at older (more traditional) drivers?
• Yes there is...we started what I think was a wonderful drive and show our products program in towns and cities across the North American markets before the whole global financial crisis. We could not do it for obvious reasons—so I want to do this again—does not matter what age our customers are—so that will be really, really good to really show folks what we have!
In June 2001, Reuss was named executive director, architecture engineering and GM Performance Division. He started the new GM Performance Division and launched associated production and racing vehicles including the V-Series Cadillacs and SS Chevrolets. In October 2005, Reuss was appointed executive director of North America vehicle systems and architecture. The following year, he was named executive director of global vehicle integration, safety, and virtual development.
Reuss received a bachelor of engineering degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1986 and a master’s degree in business administration from Duke University in 1990. He is a certified industry pool test driver on the North Course of the famed Nürburgring motorsport race track in Nürburg, Germany, and has earned his license for Grand American Road Racing.
So buckle up, everyone. He’s fast and should make for an excellent green flag for the opening of the “Big Lap” around the nation’s biggest auto show.
About the Chicago Auto Show: Sanctioned by International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. First staged in 1901, 2010 will mark the 102nd edition of the show. The Chicago Auto Show will open to the public Feb. 12-21. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Feb. 12-20) and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Feb. 21). For additional information visit: www.ChicagoAutoShow.com
About the Chicago Automobile Trade Association: Founded in 1904, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) is the nation’s oldest and largest metropolitan dealer organization. The CATA is comprised of more than 400 franchised new-car dealers and allied members. Dealer members employ over 20,000 people in the metropolitan area. For additional information visit: www.cata.info
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Chicago Automobile Trade Association
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