During an hour-long, live global webcast celebrating the company's 100th anniversary, Mr. Wagoner said that "GM's second century starts right now." He said the company plans to endure the tough U.S. economic climate that is currently dragging down its profitability. Addressing attendees at festivities hosted in the company's "Wintergarden," which is ironically lined with tall, fake palm trees, Mr. Wagoner said that GM survived thousands of car-making startups "against all odds" a century ago.
"We will demonstrate to the world we are more than a 100-year-old company. We are a company ready to lead for the next 100 years to come," he said. Despite GM's whopping earnings loss, it did post record new-vehicle sales in three of its four global regions.
At the event the company unveiled the production version of the Chevrolet Volt, the extended-range electric vehicle due out in the U.S. in late 2010. "Volt is symbolic of what GM stands for today ... it symbolizes GM's commitment to the future," said Mr. Wagoner.
GM first offered a peek at the Volt as a concept car in January 2007 at the North American International Auto Show. The car's 6-foot-long, 400-pound battery pack propels the sedan without gasoline for 40 miles and can be plugged into a simple 120-volt outlet for recharging.
"The No. 1 battlefield in the auto industry today is an energy-storing system at an affordable price," said Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive for the Volt.
Even though the Volt won't go on sale until late 2010, GM has been advertising it since last fall via work from Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich. Interpublic Group of Cos. sibling McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., has also created some recent Volt advertising.