For years now, we've heard General Motors complain that it's being lapped in the United States by Toyota because it's got five retirees in the back seat for every two people actively building its vehicles, while Toyota's U.S. operations are virtually retiree-free. GM is also weighed down by heavy "legacy costs" for pensions and health care, while Toyota has no pension plan, and its health care costs per vehicle are barely a tenth of GM's. GM's $1.1 billion loss in the first quarter doesn't begin to tell the whole story. The carmaker is saddled with a $1,600-per-vehicle handicap in so-called legacy costs, mostly retiree health and pension benefits. 
According to GM's annual report, it paid $73.26 per hour in wages and benefits to its hourly workers last year.  GM will seek to reduce costs to about $48 per hour, about the average hourly cost incurred by Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor Co., company officials have said. 
This would reduce assembly cost for each vehicle of about $1,000. In addition if legacy costs were reduced to that which Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor Co pay it could earn an additional $24 billion each year.
General Motors offered buyouts to all of its 74,000 US hourly employees as the automotive giant continues to downsize operations in response to declining US market share and massive financial losses.  The head of the United Automobile Workers Union said it is expected 15,000 to 20,000 workers to leave General Motors during a new round of buyouts, and that G.M. would replace nearly all of them with lower-paid employees. Including benefits and retiree health care costs, each worker who leaves under the buyout program and is replaced by someone on the lower pay scale would save G.M. about $48 an hour, or nearly $100,000 a year. 
If anything has killed GM it is its managements lack of vision and the UAW's not looking out for the best interest of its members. GM could rise again if it is able to reduce compensation to its hourly employees. The only question is wether or not it has the time and money.
Germany must have faith in GM and its management since it is ready to guarantee funds for ailing carmaker Opel but any money it provides to the General Motors' unit must stay in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday