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经济学人:通用被迫面对它的错误

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Business

商业报道
General Motors woes
通用的悲鸣
What do you recall?
你召回什么?
GM is forced to confront its faults
通用被迫面对它的错误
WHEN Mary Barra took the wheel at General Motors in January she inherited a company in good shape.
Mary Barra 在二月份接掌通用汽车时,公司运转态势良好。

Five years after bankruptcy, its profits were exceeding expectations and its share price was rising.

破产5年之后,它的利润增长超过预期,股价也在持续上升。
But the new boss's to-do list was long: fixing GM's loss-making European arm, keeping up momentum in China amid signs of a slowdown and rejuvenating the product line.
但是新的掌门人面临着一系列的问题:整顿欧洲分支的亏损问题;在出现衰退迹象的情况下,保持中国市场的发展势头并发展生产线。
Ms Barra's predecessor, Dan Akerson, warned her that she would also face “curve balls”.
Barra女士的前任Dan Akerson 告诫她可能也会面临“曲线球”。
The first has arrived sooner than she might have expected.
第一个比她预期的来得更快。
What appeared to be a routine recall in mid-February of about 800,000 older models, linked to a faulty ignition switch, has turned out to be anything but.
在二月中旬看似是例行召回的800000辆旧款车结果显示只是因为点火开关的缺陷。
The number of cars recalled has leapt to more than 2.6m.
被召回的车已经超过260万辆。
The company's inept handling of a safety problem that first became apparent a decade ago is now linked to the deaths of at least 13 motorists.
公司对于安全问题的笨拙处理,在十年之前首次显露。现在已经与至少13位驾驶者的死亡有关。
Called before Congress on April 1st to answer for GM's failings Ms Barra said she was “deeply sorry” but insisted that the post-bankruptcy “new GM” was not like the “old GM”, which had failed to deal with the ignition switches for years.
4月1号被召到国会回答通用失败的原因,Barra说她“深表遗憾”,但是她强调破产重组后的“新通用”和处理点火开关多年未果的“老通用”不同。
Politicians and the public alike want to know how such a problem could have remained unaddressed for so long.
政客和公众想知道为什么这样一个问题能够悬而未决这么久。
Cars are becoming ever more complex machines, with thousands of mechanical and electronic parts.
汽车构造越来越复杂,有着成千上万的机械以及电气构造。
Recalls are not uncommon.
召回并不罕见。
Last year it happened to 22m vehicles in America, compared with 18m in 2012.
去年美国有2200万汽车召回,而2012年召回了1800万辆。
In fact, GM was one of only three brands that recalled fewer vehicles than it sold.
实际上,通用曾是召回比售出少的三巨头之一。
Niggling problems, like squeaks or rattles, that do not affect safety are more common still.
不影响安全的类似于发出吱吱声或者为嗡嗡声的琐碎问题愈发常见。
They may be fixed at a routine service; the owner may never know.
它们有可能在例行服务中被处理好,汽车所有者可能永远都不会知道。
The growing number of recalls is testament to an improving system for picking up faults.
增加的召回数量是发现问题体系在不断完善的明证。
But it is very complicated.
但是这个系统很复杂。
Dealers must record replacements of parts under warranty.
经销商必须在授权下记录置换部分。
The carmaker needs to spot the trend, recognise it as a problem and then determine whether or not it is a design fault that requires wholesale replacement.
汽车制造者需要发现这一趋势,认定其为一个问题,然后确认是否为需要全部替换的设计失误。
It relies on accurate recording of every warranty replacement in every region, says Andrew Bergbaum of AlixPartners, a firm of consultants.
咨询公司AlixPartners的Andrew Bergbaum说:它依赖于每一地区的每一个授权置换的精确记录。
This system appears to have broken down at “old GM”.
但是这一体系在“老通用”貌似没能施行。
Ms Barra needs to find out why.
Barra需要找出其原因。
At the heart of the matter is a widely used ignition switch that has a tendency to slip from the “on” position to “off” if a driver uses a heavy keychain or bounces down a rough road.
问题的核心是:广泛使用的点火开关在驾驶者使用重钥匙串或者在崎岖路上颠簸时有从“开”滑落到“关”的趋向。
A modification was made in 2008 to prevent the problem, which can lead to the engine shutting off, disabling the airbags.
一个装置在2008年被设计出来解决这一问题,但是它可能导致引擎熄火和安全气囊的失效。
But despite a growing list of crashes and deaths, GM failed to order a recall for a component that would have cost a few dollars at most.
尽管有着上升的撞车及死亡记录,但是通用并没有进行召回,虽然这些召回最多只是花一点钱。
This is odd.
这很奇怪。
Most carmakers want to identify and fix problems speedily despite having to bear the cost of buying and fitting a new component.
大多数汽车制造者希望及时发现并处理问题,尽管会支付购买以及安装新元件的费用。
A small part can do great harm, if bad publicity leads to reputational corrosion, lost sales and litigation, which in America can include hefty punitive damages.
千里之堤溃于蚁穴,如果坏的消息传开导致名誉受损、销量下降以及被起诉,这在美国预示着高额惩罚性赔偿。
Appearing to put profits before safety is also liable to batter a firm's shares, as GM has discovered.
通用证实了,表现得重利益甚于重视安全也会引起公司股票的大跌。
So far Ms Barra has handled the situation well.
Barra到目前为止将这个局面处理得很好。
She seems to have acted as soon as she found out something was awry.
她似乎在一发现事情不对,就立即采取行动。
And she has borrowed strategies from Toyota, which was forced into recalling more than 10m vehicles in 2009 and 2010 after worrying instances of “unintended acceleration”.
她借鉴了丰田公司的策略。丰田在担心“突然加速”的例子,在2009年和2010年先后召回了1000万辆汽车。
Akio Toyoda, Toyota's boss, also appeared before Congress, contrite and apologetic.
丰田公司掌门人Akio Toyoda也在国会现身,赔礼道歉。
GM, like Toyota, has appointed a worldwide safety tsar to cut through the bureaucracy that may have delayed action on the faulty switch.
通用和丰田一样,任命了一个全球性的安全特使来整饬可能导致拖延问题开关处理的官僚作风。
And in a frenzy of housecleaning, GM has recalled another 2m vehicles in America alone.
在一场狂风骤雨般的清理中,通用单单在美国就另外召回了200万辆车。
GM looks set to accept moral, if not legal, responsibility.
如果不是法律要求的,通用似乎也会接受道德责任。
The terms of its exit from bankruptcy give immunity to lawsuits for injuries arising beforehand.
通用退出破产的条件赋予其豁免于之前伤害诉讼的权利。
But GM is likely to compensate survivors and victims' families anyway.
但是通用不管怎样,可能赔偿幸存者以及遇难者家属。
Toyota had a terrible year after its big recalls, battered by mounting costs and falling sales.
丰田在它的大召回后经历了困难的一年,深陷于大量的费用以及减少的销量之中。
But it has since regained the lost ground.
但是它已经重新夺回失去的市场。
It is not yet clear how much of a hammering GM will take.
通用会经受怎样的打击现在还不清楚。
But hours before Ms Barra's meeting with Congress, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety issued a coveted “Top Safety Pick” endorsement for the new Chevrolet Malibu, one of a growing number of well-received cars from GM.
但是在Barra出席国会之前,高速公路安全保险机构颁发了一个令人垂涎的“最高安全评价”的认证给了通用销量大涨、广受欢迎的雪佛兰迈锐宝。
That suggests it is at least on the road to redemption.
这表明通用至少在救赎的路上。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
institute ['institju:t]

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n. 学会,学院,协会
vt. 创立,开始,制

联想记忆
slip [slip]

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v. 滑倒,溜走,疏忽,滑脱
n. 滑倒,溜走

 
complex ['kɔmpleks]

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adj. 复杂的,复合的,合成的
n. 复合体

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unfamiliar ['ʌnfə'miljə]

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adj. 不熟悉的

 
curve [kə:v]

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n. 曲线,弯曲,弧线,弯曲物
vt.

 
wheel [wi:l]

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n. 轮子,车轮,方向盘,周期,旋转
vi.

 
frenzy ['frenzi]

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n. 狂暴,狂怒

 
liable ['laiəbl]

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adj. 有义务的,应负责的,有 ... 倾向

 
solution [sə'lu:ʃən]

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n. 解答,解决办法,溶解,溶液

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tendency ['tendənsi]

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n. 趋势,倾向

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