GM Executives on the Loan Plan
General Motors executives held a press conference in response to the federal government's announcement this morning that it would extend up to $17.4 billion in loans to GM and Chrysler. Some points:
-They expect funds from the government before the end of the year - Dec. 29, to be more precise.
-While the government's plan doesn't use the term "czar," it does call for a federal designate. "You could call that a car czar," said CEO Rick Wagoner.
-COO Fritz Henderson said that the company is deferring projects and will cancel some programs, though he emphasized that executives feel confident about their products and technology.
-Wagoner said that the amount the government is granting is consistent with what the company asked for to get through the next three months in a "downside case." He also said bankruptcy is not something the company is planning on using.
-Henderson said that current U.S. hourly labor costs are $8 billion and that to be competitive with foreign automakers, they need to be closer to $4.5 billion. He said the company has shared its cost comparisons with the union.
-Wagoner said it is "absolutely" not time for him to step aside, asking whether he would have gone through the past two months if he wasn't going to stay.
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