Jim Taylor has been the CEO of Hummer since October of 2008. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Cadillac. Since beginning his GM career in 1980 with GM of Canada Limited in Oshawa, Ontario as an industrial engineer, Jim Taylor progressed through several production and purchasing positions, including management positions at Saturn, Adam Opel, Worldwide Purchasing and GM Truck. Taylor was appointed Cadillac General Manager in 2004, and was responsible for the division’s global product, marketing and promotional activities.
Although Taylor is a skilled tactician and engineer, his creative side is exercised through music—he is a concert-level pianist. He also spends free time enjoying the open road on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Question: How is Cadillac catching up to the green revolution?
Taylor: Well, green… you get me off into a whole other subject as it relates to automotive and relates to luxury and relates to our consumer base. I wouldn’t say exactly the same… that entire, kind of, revival or makeover, as you said. There’s probably a little bit more basic in it, you know, what we stood for, what we meant to customers, who we had to appeal to, really, our product itself was, you know, competitive from a performance standpoint, from a luxury standpoint, so we’re back to pretty much square one in reestablishing ourselves, again, just to be viable and to get on the shopping list of consumers. You know, the green… everything, movement, phenomenon is… is a little more… it’s more complicated because [IB] consumer products of course and it’s… it’s… in some cases, it’s an attitude, it’s regional, obviously, different preferences even around the United States, if you went from California to Texas to Miami to New York, it’s different variations and different interests and then… and then in the [IB] products, you have, you know, extremely strong interest in a lot of folks around just basics, recycling and products that people use where. Automotive is a tough subject because to move at the kind of speed that everybody would like it to move, again, is both a science… a science challenge and as well as a huge financial challenge for the industry to move that fast and really match both the expectations, in this case, in Washington and also our customer base. So, one of the advantages [IB] being global is, of course, is that we have international operations that are also expecting exactly the same very quick movements to much a higher [fuel] economy, much lower emissions and carbon and things that are all expectations around the world really demand us to have those technical solutions, not just here in the US market but everywhere in the globe. So, you know, kind of timely, if we can stick to business [IB], literally this week, but as part of… lot of the [fuel] initiatives are put in place last year as part of legislation, one of the things that is part of that, kind of deal was a loan by the US government to give the auto industry 25 billion dollars to fund, again, a huge amount of the technical research that has to go on to get our vehicles into a kind of fuel economy state that presumably customers expect as well as the Washington bill makers have mandated that we achieve this in a pretty short order so we’re anxiously waiting for the approval of that bill and of course, [IB] financials that are going on this week, makes it even more complicated for Washington to sort through but it’s going to come. I’d say the not so popular, more controversial part of this is consumers in the auto industry are very green when it comes to putting, you know, their wallet on line. So you have a very dedicated crew, say that, you know, and did [IB] and bought a lot of them and buy a small niche of product that’s available in that space, on the other hand, it’s somewhere more mainstream products, you know, if you put a $1,000, $2,000, $5,000 premium which it cost us some hardware to add those features to this vehicle and all of a sudden, they’re not so interested anymore. So, you know, it’s just kind of a dark side [IB] likes to talk about ‘cause, you know, it’s not correct and not politically correct but the reality is, consumers do a serious economic tradeoff when it comes down to it and… and have varying degrees of green interest when it comes down to [moving] their wallet.