Hummer Personnel Changes May Boost Sales

by , Oct 21, 2008, 3:36 PM
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HummerThis may be anticlimactic, given word that Cerberus Capital wants to sell Chrysler, and General Motors is considering buying it.

 

But the company is also making switches at Hummer that could mean more changes in that division. James E. Taylor, who has been Cadillac's general manager since 2004, will take the new position of CEO. The company says the creation of the position, and Taylor's appointment to it, reflects GM's "strategic review" of the division.

Taylor reports to Mark McNabb, GM North America VP for the company's premium channel, who oversees Cadillac, Hummer and Saab.

General Motors has said it is considering spinning off the Hummer brand, whose sole products are the large H2 and H3 SUVs. Martin Walsh, currently general manager, will stay to work with dealers on the changes and then move on to a new job, which the company has yet to announce.

Taylor joined GM in 1980 and since has held a number of business and marketing leadership roles, including those at Saturn, Adam Opel, Worldwide Purchasing and GM Truck.

Mark LaNeve, GM North America VP/vehicle sales, service and marketing, said the changes at the premium channel include "sharpening our focus on Cadillac as GM's flagship brand in the global luxury marketplace under Mark McNabb's leadership."

Sales within the Hummer brand have fallen precipitously, with high fuel prices and the economic crunch cutting sales last month by 54%, to 2,298 vehicles. The company has sold only 22,492 trucks in the first nine months of the year--a 47.4% drop. About 75% of Hummer sales this year were of the H3, which is built on the same template as the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-sized pickup trucks. It is the smaller of the two SUVs the division sells.

Todd Turner, head of Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based think tank Car Concepts, says the main reason GM moved Taylor to Hummer was to make the division more attractive to a prospective buyer.

"It's to make Hummer more appealing," because Taylor might well choose to go with Hummer to whoever acquires it, and Taylor was a central figure in the renovation of Cadillac a few years back. Turner says Taylor's presence "adds to the value of the franchise, because it's a damaged franchise."

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