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Auto show-Delphi CEO pledges better “health” for industry

January 13, 2010

smoking1When DelphiCEO Rodney O’Neal talked of losing weight and quitting smoking, it was his recipe for getting the global auto industry back on track and not a New Year’s resolution.

In his first public comments since the auto parts maker emerged from a four-year bankruptcy in October, O’Neal said the global auto industry will need to shrink to match consumer demand and stop pining for the good ‘ole days when demand was much higher.

“In terms of our industry …  we are just simply overweight, to be honest we are just fat,” he said at the Automotive News World Congress conference in Detroit. “We are too bloated and we absolutely do need the latest fad from a diet perspective to get right-sized.” The conference was held in conjunction with the Detroit auto show.

O’Neal cited CSM data, saying the industry globally has 86 million units of manufacturing capacity, about 30 million more than where demand is currently. And the overcapacity problem is even worse in the supplier sector.

“Everybody’s got a plan, an idea on how to get healthy, how to lose weight, how to stop smoking, how to do a better job of staying in touch with one another and above all how to reduce stress,” he said.

Delphi slashed 90,000 workers and divested numerous business lines to focus on safety equipment, green technology and vehicle connectivity through the bankruptcy. O’Neal said the privately held company has no timetable yet for an initial public offering.

He also said the industry executives need to stop looking to the higher sales of the past and focus on what is ahead. “We all should stop smoking anything that causes us to think about the good old days.”

O’Neal also compared the struggles Delphi and the industry went through to a scary movie.

“We had a double-feature X-rated horror movie with 7.1 surround sound pumping out at full volume doom and gloom,” he said.

(Reuters photo)

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