Could Toyota Buy General Motors? For a Stronger USA?

gmtoyota.gifThomas Friedman has a rather interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York times where he suggests that Toyota should buy General Motors. I have no idea if any such thing is remotely on the table, but the points he makes are quite thought provoking and pertinent to sustainability. The basic premise is that shortsighted management at GM (largely toward fuel economy) is the main culprit in the company’s currently dismal financial condition.
A buyout by, say, Toyota (soon to be the world’s largest car company) would bring new thinking to American automaking, massively boost hybrid technology, and move a “geo-green” agenda forward that would ultimately “strengthen the dollar, reduce our trade deficit, make America the world leader in combating climate change and stimulate U.S. companies to take the lead in producing the green technologies that the world will desperately need”. Read the rest at

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

15 responses

  1. Friedman is nuts. Why would Toyota ever buy a company that is saddled with a UAW contract that demands the company pay $1,500 on each car manufactured into union health and welfare benefits? Especially when Toyota is kicking their ass BECAUSE their own costs are only $300 per car. #2. The hybrid technology that all you bozos keep touting is simply a sales job by Toyota. The facts are that the fuel economy is at best 45 miles per gallon, the battery costs $5k and has to be replaced in nine years, which means the car has NO RESALE value without a secondary battery warranty which will add $5K to the initial cost of the car. #3 In case you doubt me, just ask any of the test drivers what they think of hybrids: no guts, slow to attain speed, and HORRIBLE GAS MILEAGE in town. Hybrids are a Toyota hype job.

  2. Duke:
    1) Health care costs wouldn’t be an issue if GM made cars people wanted to buy. The management is at fault, not the workers.
    2a) My parent’s Prius has averaged 50mpg since they bought it in 2001.
    2) The batteries are warrantied for 70,000 miles and, because they have no moving parts, are less likely to go bad than the transmission
    3a) If I want to buy a sports car or an SUV, I’ll listen to Car & Driver or MotorTrend. Otherwise they don’t rate cars on issues people actually care about. I don’t drag race or tow a boat. I drive to and from work at the speed limit trying desperately to save gas and not get killed.
    3b) I see no performance difference between my parent’s Prius and my wife’s Pontiac Vibe GT.
    Is it better to have a car where getting 45mpg is ‘horrible’ or to have an SUV where getting 20mpg is ‘phenomenal?’

  3. Why hasn’t Toyota bought GM already? Years ago Toyota entered a partnership with GM in California. Toyota took over a GM plant. They brought in their management but kept the UAW hourly workers. This plant now makes the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe. Additionally, Toyota could buy GM for $20 billion which is about $15 billion less than the cash GM has. Also, GM plants took the top 3 J.D. Power awards for initial quality for North and South America. Further, GM scored top 4 out of 5 and 8 out of 10. GM is back. Toyota should buy before the price goes up!

  4. I agree that hyrids are over rated. Pay more now. Get negative payback from the gas savings. Then take a bath at trade-in time because you need a $5000 battery. Who are the idiots that buy these things?

  5. Some of the statments made so far in these messages drives home the point that the Internet povides a great forum for the uninformed of the World.
    1) You have people knocking a vehicle for getting 45 MPG when gas has hit $3.00 per gallon? By the way, I know two Prius owners that consistently get OVER 60 MPH.
    2)The Prius has been in production for going on nine years. Where is Japan putting all of these worn out battries.
    3)FYI. The battery does not have to be replaced when you can replace individual cells instead. BTW-How many transmissions does a Chrysler or Ford use in 100,000 miles (which, by the way, is the length of time the Hybrid battries are covered from Toyota on all Prisus’)?
    4) As Paul stated, if you are dumb enough to try to drive a Hybrid like a sports car, then you get what you deserve.
    5) On the subject of guts in a Hybrid, Duke, have you tried out the Lexus RX400h or the Highlander Hybrid? Both would tend to put a damper on your arguements when it comes to performance.

  6. Hyrbids are not the alternative. A move toward a non oil based fuel source is where we need to be headed. Solar, Hydrogen, Ethanol… we need something renewable to use. Buying an E85 car is the first step in the right direction.

  7. Japanese engereering is terrible. There are other ways to solve polution problems rather than making all hybrid vehicles. Although the car itself is putting out less harmful chemicals, think about the energy that is needed to generate electricity. If all cars are running on electricity that means that powerplants will be working double overtime to provide the electricity to run these vehicles. And how do powerplants work? FUEL!!! Powerplants rely on fuel to run, and if the demand for electricity is higher, the amount of polution in the air would increase greatly. It’s a fact that foreign cars are generally more difficult to repair and more time consuming. Therefore, the owner would be paying more money because of labor hours and it would be a hastle for both the mechanic and the customer. I strongly believe that GM should not let Toyota buy them out, and they should not let any of there vehicles be designed by foreigners.

  8. I wouldn’t own an american car if it was given to me. The quality control of american vehicles is reprehensible. I drive a Lexus and will only drive a Lexus or Toyota. I could care less about the United Auto worker making 80 bucks an hour to churn out worthless american automobiles. The american auto worker is a lazy, greedy slug. Long live the hardworking, dedicated japanese auto worker. Face it Ford, Chevy, Dodge….your product is weak at best. I love my 3 ton Lexus suv which gets 10 MPG. It will long outlast any american piece of garbage.

  9. I would have to agree with Steve on the issue that American cars are garbage. Yes, we might say we produce the fastest cars in the world, but who cares. If these low quality sports cars such as corvette need to be repaired all the time what is the point. Quality is why Toyota is going to be number one. If Toyota buys GM it would send shockwaves through this country, and maybe get all the other car companies to produce better cars. Jake how can you say that Japanese engineering is horrible if they are ranked the best quality cars by all the car magazines and consumers themselves. GM should scale down if it wants to compete, and not go bankrupt.

  10. Hmm lets see i drive a lexus gs350 and so far the windshield has been squeeking since the day i got it. it needed sepentine belts replaced. keep in mind i got it new. and have already went through a tranny because of a computer problem. now lets talk about the amazing toyota quality

  11. Its not that the prius is a bad car, and all other toyota hybrids or even hybrids generally speaking. Hybrids are not selling well, and the only people who buy them, are city workers that commute over 100 miles per day. Theres no difference in the performance of the car, but its not the car itself, its the brand logo and name of the company that is on that car.
    I drive a 1999 Dodge Intrepid ES. Im a big Dodge Nut, but thats besides that point. If someone were to tell me that you can switch car to a hybrid or a toyota with the same performance and same drive, i surely woudnt do it because i want to drive a Dodge. No ones going to change until they come out with sportier looking hybrids that all the Automobile companies make. Chrysler, Ford, GM.

  12. Toyota should buy ford and GM. Solves all the problems and at least the US gets something for it. Or else all Toyota has to do is wait for GM and Ford to go out of business and then they can have the problem of supplying the US of ALL its cars! Go Japan!

  13. This is the silliest arguement I’v read in a while. Its actually funny watching people who fully believe in the automaker they like the most. I’m a chevy fan, and thats all I have driven all my life. But if another automaker comes out with something that appeals to my tastes more than the new Camaro, I will buy it. Until then, I’m going to go on my mary way buying the car that BEST suits my tastes.

  14. The union is strangling the American auto industry. Share holders, more interested in their investments increasing that our production leaves the states for Mexico and Canada. While our competitors like Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Volkswagen can profit building here in the US (and employ an American). Lets flatter our competition and copy what they do well.

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