Full Release Hump Day: PR From Pelosi, NADA, Chrysler, And More

February 18, 2009

A lot of paper--virtual and otherwise--flew through the air late yesterday. Everything was going smoothly until Chrysler and GM submitted their restructuring plans to congress, and après ça, as they say, le déluge. Faster than you could say "deforestation", a volley of press releases shot across the TCC desks. Some had important things to say, others...well, PR departments have to do something now and then, don't they? Here's our take on a few of the docs that caught our bleary eyes:

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Dude, it's totally not our fault: GM (excerpt) -- GM's need for government support was driven by the global financial market crisis, dramatically weaker economy and the resulting precipitous decline in vehicle demand. These conditions have impacted the entire auto industry, which in the U.S. is down approximately 40 percent from its peak in 2005, to the lowest per capita sales rate in 50 years. Though the impact has been most severe in the U.S. and Western Europe, automakers around the world are reporting large losses, with many seeking government assistance to weather the downturn.

Following the steep decline in U.S. industry sales in December 2008 and January 2009, GM responded by further lowering its forecast for 2009 U.S. industry sales to 10.5 million units (57.5 million units globally) for viability planning purposes. These industry planning volumes are more conservative than those being used by most other industry sources.

"The U.S. and global auto industries are facing times of unprecedented challenge," said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. "These conditions dictate that we must take very tough actions to accelerate GM's restructuring efforts. We've made a lot of progress since the plan we submitted on December 2, 2008, and we have more to do before March 31. The plan we delivered today to the U.S. Treasury is aggressive but achievable. It provides a clear pathway for GM that continues to support American manufacturing and technology innovation, which are vital to the future of our nation's economy."

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At least we didn't take out a full-page ad: Chrysler (excerpt) -- "On behalf of the men and women of our extended family, we thank the Administration and the Congress for the opportunity to continue the process of requesting federal loans to assist Chrysler LLC in the restructuring necessary to achieve long-term viability," Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Robert L. Nardelli said. "We fully understand the need to adapt to significantly reduced annual U.S. sales and to national concerns over energy security and climate change.

"We believe that Chrysler LLC will be viable based on the updated assumptions contained in this submission, and that an orderly restructuring outside of bankruptcy, together with the completion of our standalone viability plan, enhanced by a strategic alliance with Fiat, is the best option for Chrysler employees, our unions, dealers, suppliers and customers. Today, our people are eager to re-establish Chrysler as an iconic American company and, in the process, repay the U.S. government and taxpayers for their faith in our future. We believe the requested working capital loan is the least- costly alternative and will help provide an important stimulus to the U.S. economy and deliver positive results for American taxpayers. This plan will ensure the continued provision of health care and pension benefits to our active employees and retirees, while continuing to protect hundreds of thousands of middle class, quality American jobs at Chrysler, our dealer network and our suppliers."

...Based on this, we will require incremental financial support to continue our orderly and effective restructuring and are therefore now seeking an incremental $2 billion in addition to the remaining $3 billion that was within the scope of our original December 2 plan submission.

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Infiniti-worthy creampuff of nothingness: Nancy Pelosi -- "The submission of restructuring plans by GM and Chrysler represents the next step in what has been a difficult and disappointing chapter for the American economy, but I hope will become the transformation of our domestic automobile industry into a viable, technologically advanced, and globally competitive manufacturing force.

"In the coming weeks, the Obama Administration will review these plans and assess whether the shared sacrifice required of all stakeholders affected by the auto companies' current conditions - workers, executives, bondholders, and shareholders - will result in reasonably restructured corporations, with good, high-paying jobs for the future.

"Congress looks forward to working with the Obama Administration on any future actions that may be needed to move our domestic automobile industry on a path of global competitiveness and advanced energy efficiency technologies, while ensuring accountability to the taxpayers."

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Less than thrilled: National Automobile Dealers Association -- "General Motors has submitted a strong plan. It's comprehensive and aggressive and achievable. We are, of course, exceedingly disappointed that a viable solution has not yet been found for Saturn, Saab and Hummer. When considering the future viability of these brands, GM should continue to aggressively pursue all options. We are pleased that GM recognizes the 'great dealer network' that supports these brands. Should it become necessary to phase out these brands, it is imperative that GM treat the affected dealers fairly and that they be properly compensated. It is equally important to take care of the Saturn, Saab and Hummer owners. On the positive front, we are encouraged that GM recognizes that the availability of credit for automotive consumers and dealers is central to GM's survival. We look forward to working with GM and the government to free up credit, both at the wholesale and retail level."

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Cat-stroking, finger-tenting glee: Ford -- "Mwah, ha ha!"

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Ravenous indifference: Cookie Monster -- "OM NOM NOM!"

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Deafening silence: Hello Kitty could not be reached for comment because she ain't got no mouth.

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