Friday, December 15, 2000

Steelyard blues

General Motors were much in the news this week announcing plans to retrench in North America as well as in Europe. Most noteworthy was the demise of the Oldsmobile brand. Like Vauxhall, suffering with a somewhat stuffy image, the Olds will be phased out joining other brands like Plymouth, Rambler and Hudson in the great wrecking yard in the sky.
The company was founded by Ransom Eli Olds who produced the Curved Dash, from 1900 to 1904, the first car to carry the name Oldsmobile. Olds sold out to GM in 1908 and later manufactured trucks, giving his initials to the REO Speedwagon.
Post-WW2 Oldsmobile were known for their chrome trim and automatic transmissions; they also pioneered the use of the air bag in the seventies. U.S. sales peaked at over one million in 1985 with the success of the Cutlass and the 88. More recently country-singer Kathy Mattea sang nostalgically of the "455 Rocket."
Today GM produces 8.3 million vehicles annually or approximately 35,000 vehicles a day.
More than 16,000 jobs will go, nearly 4 percent of its worldwide workforce.

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