Goliath GM takes a close look at the auto industry's David, Tesla
October 2, 2013
by Ben Klayman & Rory Carroll & Paul Lienert
In Wall Street's retelling of the biblical Book of Samuel, General Motors Co. is Goliath and electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. is David, the would-be giant slayer.
Tesla's market value has soared 470 percent this year to $23 billion, while GM has risen a relatively modest 25 percent to $50 billion. At this pace, if the bubble doesn't burst, 10-year-old Tesla theoretically could eclipse 105-year-old GM next year (Tesla shares fell 6.2 percent to $180.95 today).
Faced with this prospect, GM CEO Dan Akerson and Vice Chairman Steve Girsky assembled an internal task force to study Tesla's playbook, test-drive its best-selling Model S and figure out what lessons might be applied. Dubbed "Team Tesla," the group included members from product planning, engineering, manufacturing and sales.
"History is littered with companies that knew what was coming and couldn't do anything about it," Girsky, 51, said in an interview in New York last week. "We can ignore it and cover it up, or we can figure out what we're going to do about it."
"Tesla could teach GM how to 'small' a problem rather than 'big' a problem," said Matthew Stover, auto analyst for Guggenheim Securities. "They've done that well -- solve problems quickly with a small group of people."
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