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Posted at 6:22 PM ET, 01/28/2011

GM moves away from 'Government Motors'

By Charles Lane

I've been tough on General Motors lately, so it's a genuine thrill to be able to take note of those occasions when the company does something smart. Case in point: Thursday's announcement that GM is canceling its request for $14.4 billion in fuel-efficiency loans from the Energy Department.

This move is a twofer for new CEO Dan Akerson: It helps the company avoid building up debt (even the cheap government kind), and it aids the rebranding of GM as a free-standing automaker, not "Government Motors."

When Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and his brother, Sander, a Michigan congressman, proposed a dramatic expansion of government tax credits for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt, GM wisely maintained radio silence about this costly idea. Not surprisingly, I'm less impressed with Akerson's push to increase production of the Chevy Volt this year.

But I'll try to keep my critique of that hapless vehicle technological wonder as fair as possible. My pal Greg Martin, GM's D.C.-based spokesman, called this morning to suggest it was not entirely fair of me to suggest, in this morning's column, that the Volt's battery might burst into flame one day. Fair enough, though, as I told Greg, I was just speculating about disaster scenarios for the Volt brand, not speaking from any actual knowledge about a specific flaw in the battery. Sorry if I gave anyone a different impression.

Then again, I'm not the only one who's engaged in such thought experiments.

By Charles Lane  | January 28, 2011; 6:22 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Lane found ther perfect place for someone who is almost always wrong: the opinion pages of the WP, as it slowly swirls down the bowl of irrelevancy.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | January 29, 2011 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Lane is pleased that GM withdrew their reuqest for a $14.4 billion dollar "loan" from the federal government. I want to know WHY? GM was considered eligible to apply for any loan of any kind from a government that still owns almost $30 billion in GM common stock.

The continuing BIG LIE being told to the American taxpayer is that GM paid back its loans, is now profitable, and is fully recovered. The GM bailout money wasn't paid back, it was converted to common stock that is worth substantially less than the bailout funds GM was given. The funds to payoff some "loans" came, not from GM earnings, but from "unused" taxpayer dollars.

GM is counting heavily on sales of the Chevy Volt that will be heavily subsidized by government rebates (more taxpayer dollars). In addition, the first major purchaser of Chevy Volts will be (you gessed it), the federal government.

GM is still "government motors" in every sense of the term.

Posted by: pilsener | January 29, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Lane is pleased that GM withdrew their reuqest for a $14.4 billion dollar "loan" from the federal government. I want to know WHY? GM was considered eligible to apply for any loan of any kind from a government that still owns almost $30 billion in GM common stock.

The continuing BIG LIE being told to the American taxpayer is that GM paid back its loans, is now profitable, and is fully recovered. The GM bailout money wasn't paid back, it was converted to common stock that is worth substantially less than the bailout funds GM was given. The funds to payoff some "loans" came, not from GM earnings, but from "unused" taxpayer dollars.

GM is counting heavily on sales of the Chevy Volt that will be heavily subsidized by government rebates (more taxpayer dollars). In addition, the first major purchaser of Chevy Volts will be (you guessed it), the federal government.

GM is still "government motors" in every sense of the term.

Posted by: pilsener | January 29, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

GM is selling many cars (in China) using their new factory (in China).

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | January 29, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I have long been puzzled by the people in this country that have rooted for the failure of the American Auto industry. Thos group of mainly boomers seemed to be envious of american manufacturers, mostly jealous of the standard of living provided employees of our auto industry and often critical of the United Auto Workers and all unions. They consistantly paid more for mostly Asian auto makers and overlooked the quality and safety in native autos. If they had objectively looked at our domestic auto companies they would've found the value we all deserve.

Posted by: tplocki | January 29, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Talk to me about GM when all the subsidies are gone. Talk to me when real people reach in their own pocket for $41,000 to buy a Volt, or when in this century that GM pays corporate income tax. Then, and only then, am I interested in what happens to GM.

Posted by: JNiebs | January 30, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I always amuses me that the people who understand technology the least have the most to say about the auto industry. Sad.

Posted by: flyover22 | January 30, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

When will the buggy whips-naysayers give the Obama administration’ some much needed credit for saving GM and over 250 parts manufactures. Job well done Mr. President

Posted by: nateminor | January 30, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The whole purpose of the GM bailout was to preserve "American" jobs.
GM is now taking 500 Million dollars of our taxpayer money and building a new plant in Mexico with our money creating 1000 jobs.
I take it Obama means "North America" My money should not be used to create Mexican or Canadian jobs.

I will NEVER by a GM product again!

Posted by: BigKahuna1 | January 31, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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