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GM productivity improves
June 14, 2001: 3:14 p.m. ET

Report of automaker productivity shows GM closing in on Ford
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A study of automaker productivity released Thursday showed General Motors Corp. gained on its beleaguered competitor Ford Motor Co. in 2000.

Harbour and Associates, a manufacturing consulting firm, said Ford continues to lead the former Big Three automakers Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler in productivity.

But Harbour said GM progressed more than any automaker in its study, which measures car assembly, stamping and powertrain productivity for 10 automakers in North America.

GM said the gains were the result of "systematic change" at its plants and improved communication with its employees and unions.

"What we're working on are the right things, and they're starting to yield some impressive results," said Gary Cowger, GM's vice president of manufacturing and labor relations.

Harbour and Associates said Detroit-based GM has been working for some time to find common best practices at its plants, cut waste and improve quality.

"For the past several years, GM has been working very hard on implementing lean manufacturing systems and processes throughout its operations," said Ron Harbour, president of Harbour and Associates. "It is evident that GM has made significant improvement in its manufacturing operations."

The report adds to already heavy pressure on Ford, the world's No. 2 automaker. Ford has endured a public battle with tiremaker Bridgestone/Firestone arising from recalls of Firestone tires used on Ford Explorers and other sport/utility vehicles.

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Ford (F: down $0.20 to $24.38, Research, Estimates) shares were down slightly in Thursday afternoon trading, while GM (GM: up $0.94 to $60.47, Research, Estimates) shares were up slightly.

In the Harbour Report, both Ford and GM, as usual, took a back seat to Japanese automakers; Nissan led all automakers in productivity for the seventh year in a row, with Honda coming in second place and Toyota in third.

"Ford and GM both are grappling with the same issue: how to close the gap with our Japanese competitors," Cowger said. graphic


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Harbour and Associates

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