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All I Want for Christmas is…

So, Detroit’s automaker chiefs return to Capital Hill this week, hats in hand, looking for a few bucks to tide them over.


$34 billion bucks, to be exact.

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“You see, with the value of your trade, which I did the best I could on, we could only do so much with the bank. We gave you a little extra here, but at the end this car is going to run you $34 billion.”

Thanks to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, here is what the Not So Big 3 want and what they are willing to do for it:

GM Plans
GM says it needs up to $18 billion in federal loans to get through the next few years, an increase from the $12 billion discussed last month.


Slash brands: The new company would have Chevrolet, Cadillac and combined GMC/Buick dealerships. Pontiac would survive as a niche brand to be sold in GMC/Buick stores. The company will sell or close Hummer, Saturn and Saab.

Slash dealerships: GM wants 4,750 dealerships in the U.S. by 2012, down from 6,450 this year and more than 8,100 in 2000.

Wage cuts: By 2012, when it begins a new contract with the United Auto Workers, GM wants hourly wages and benefits to match those at U.S. Toyota and Honda dealerships. This would require more concessions from the union.

Symbolic cuts: GM will mothball its corporate jet fleet by the end of this year, CEO Rick Wagoner will accept a $1 salary, as will board members. And senior executives will take up to 50% pay cuts. The company will also not pay dividends during the life of the loans.


Ford Plans
Ford says it wants access to up to $9 billion in a federal line of credit. The company says it may not need a loan, but if conditions worsen, a credit line would help.

New products: Ford says it will sell a more fuel efficient commercial van by 2010 to replace the E-Series vans made in Avon Lake, Ohio. The company also committed to a battery-powered electric vehicle by 2012 and the further expansion of its hybrid product lines.

Focus on existing brand: Ford has already sold its Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin luxury brands and said Monday it will consider selling Volvo. That will leave the company with its classic Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands.


Wage cuts? Ford said it is talking to the UAW, but it did not spell out target wage levels.

Symbolic cuts: Ford chief executive will take a $1 salary for the next two years, and the company will sell off its jet fleet.

Chrysler plans
Chrysler says it needs $7 billion in loans to survive the industry downturn. If sales improve next year, it may not need the money.

Product launches: Through its low-speed electric car subsidiary GEM, Chrysler plans to launch several new short-range electric cars within the next few years. It also wants to launch plug-in hybrids and battery powered cars by 2012.


Symbolic cuts: Chrysler’s chief executive will take a $1 salary, and the company’s top management team will forgo company subsidized health care.

Keep in mind that whatever GM gets, Ford and Chrysler will want…in spades. So this little bailout exercise could grow even larger.

Now, to put further punctuation on then situation, November car sales figures were really, really awful. Everyone was in negative figures, year over year:

Chrysler -47%
Ford -31%
GM -41%
Honda -32%
Hyundai/Kia -39%
Nissan -42%
Toyota -34%

If you have comments to share, send to me at [email protected]

– Jim Smith

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