On the Call: GM CEO Dan Akerson

The Associated Press

General Motors Co. on Thursday posted a $4.9 billion profit for 2012, down 36 percent from a year earlier, when it made $7.6 billion.

The drop in profits was mainly due to losses in Europe and an array of accounting gains and losses. Nearly all automakers are losing money in Europe as the economy falters, including GM alliance partner PSA Peugeot Citroen. The two companies inked a deal last year that included GM taking a 7 percent stake in Peugeot. They said they would build cars off the same underpinnings and combine purchasing to save $2 billion a year by 2017.

In a conference call with industry analysts on Thursday, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson was asked about the alliance with the French automaker:

QUESTION: It's been written in the press that cooperation with PSA Peugeot Citroen has downshifted a bit. There's no longer a joint compact car program. Why narrow the cooperation when you need cost efficiencies down the road?

ANSWER: I think a wise man once said you can't believe everything you read. And there is a great ad on television about, gee, I read it on the Internet, it's got to be true. Don't take too much stock into what you read. A lot of people like to talk. All good, robust and healthy joint ventures are based on self-interest. And when you can't pencil a car like the D-segment (compact) car in for either party, then you shouldn't do it. This isn't some sort of a fraternity here. It's a cold, calculated business deal. We respect the PSA folks a lot, and the relationship is good.