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Obama's Auto Task Force Drive Chevy Volt, Visit Ram Plant


2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Today members of President Obama's autos task force head to Detroit to scrutinize GM and Chrysler's viability plans. A test drive of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and tour of the plant that assembles the 2009 Dodge Ram will provide a chance for the companies to prove they can use fed assistance to actually move forward rather than just treading water and feeding bloated bureaucracies.

2009 Dodge Ram

2009 Dodge Ram

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But with GM now admitting that bankruptcy might be its best option, this visit from the White House could prove the automakers' important performance ever. Far from just photo ops, ride-and-drives, and feel-good factory visits, the visit will likely be pivotal for both GM and Chrysler, who desperately need more money from the government to avoid filing for bankuptcy.

The task force has been charged with deciding whether or not domestic automakers are deserving of more federal bailout funds. Currently, GM and Chrysler and are existing on the $17.4 billion lifeline in no-interest loans granted last year by the Bush administration. The companies have asked for a total of $39 billion and claim that receiving additional funding is urgent.

Prominent auto task force members like financier Steven Rattner and Steelworkers union official Ron Bloom will first tour GM's massive tech center in Warren, Mi. where they will drive the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and presumably meet key members responsible for delivering on GM's promise to bring the Volt to market late next year. Afterwards, task force members will head to Chrysler's Warren Truck plant where the 2009 Ram is produced; the company says the vehicle's vastly improved quality, fresh interior design, and innovative technology are emblematic of changes that will find their way into the rest of Chrysler's dated lineup.

[source: Detroit Free Press]

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Comments (5)
  1. "Best Option???"

    I don't recall anyone at GM saying that Bankrupcy is their "best option". I have read that it is a possibility. Can you quote the source of "best option" To enlighten?
     
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  2. "more band-aids"

    The Volt is not going to "save" GM. What the O team should do is take a step back and analyze from a high altitude perspective. If we have basically outsourced most of our manufacturing, isn't the logical next step to allow Detroit to make just high-margin gas hogs and cede the manufacturing of low margin high volume vehicles to Asia? If CAFE has been driving the need for the Big Three to (unprofitably) sell small cars, either change or dump CAFE. Where is the oursourcing line in the sand? What is the strategy for manufacturing? I am for free trade--just looking for some logic in the process and all I see is flailing, which doesn't engender confidence in the markets.
     
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  3. "Hello, Conflict of Interest?"

    The task force includes, "Steelworkers union official Ron Bloom." Umm, aren't there alot of steelworkers who depend on GM? Won't this guy get chased out of his job if he advises against funding GM?
     
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  4. "GM & Bankruptcy"

    @Mike: Far be it from me to speak on behalf of Colin, who's way more up-to-speed on some of these issues than I am. But when he mentions GM "admitting that bankruptcy might be its best option", I believe he's referring to that WSJ piece we posted the other day--the one in which an unnamed source indicated that GM was "more open to a speedy bankruptcy reorganization": http://is.gd/mBDB.
    .
    Interestingly, GM fired off a halfhearted denial of WSJ's assertions later that day: http://is.gd/mBEZ. I say "halfhearted" because GM doesn't deny that it'll accept bankruptcy, only that the company would prefer not to go through it. It's kind of a semantic issue, I know.
    .
    My personal hunch would be that GM knows bankruptcy is the best way to make a fresh start; they're just afraid of the pain and tsoris that accompany it.
     
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  5. "pain & tsurris"

    I think what GM's really afraid of is (1) the domino effect of cascading failures of Tier One and Tier Two suppliers, which really does offer a chance that MOST carmaking in this country would stop for 6-9 months, transplants included, since all carmakers share many of the same suppliers; and (2) that consumers won't buy cars from bankrupt companies.
    I'm hoping / praying the Task Force is smart enough to learn the interconnected nature of the industry. And GM (and Chrysler especially) are now learning that consumers also shy away from buying cars from companies about whom bankruptcy is being *discussed* since their two sales have fallen somewhat more than the co's not currently facing bankruptcy.
    It's a big mess. Sigh.
     
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