SPAIN: GM Europe exec wants innovation that is useful, affordable

By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 May 2005

Automakers are guilty of packing too much innovation in the car.

"We have overdone it," General Motors Europe president Carl Peter Forster told the Automotive News Europe Congress in Barcelona.

"We have seen the man-machine interface is crucial," and getting it wrong can hurt a brand badly, he said.

Forster said that future innovations must fulfill key customer demands and at the same time be affordable for the end user and the manufacturer.

GME parent General Motors reported a net loss of $US1.10 billion, or $1.95 a share, in the first quarter, its worst financial quarter in 13 years. In the first quarter of 2004, GM earned a profit of $1.2 billion, or $2.12 a share.

Part of the loss was because of restructuring at GME, which is cutting more than 10,000 jobs in Europe, most of them at German subsidiary Opel.

Forster said it is crucial for GME's plants in western Europe to be as productive as possible as the company, which also includes Vauxhall and Saab, is preparing to launch 45 new models and variants of existing model during the next five years. That includes a petrol-electric hybrid model for Opel that Forster said is due before the end of the decade.