DETROIT - On its 100th anniversary, General Motors workers cheered as the company revealed the electric-powered car intended to make GM a vehicle technology leader.
But after all the hoopla surrounding the Chevrolet Volt, executives also say a government loan package and access to credit are important parts of GM’s next century.
Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s centennial celebration inside GM’s world headquarters, said the recent turmoil in the financial markets should not affect the loan package now before Congress.
The $25 billion in loans were approved last year as part of an energy bill and should now be funded to help the industry build next-generation automobiles and meet government fuel economy standards, Wagoner said.
“Really a relatively small fraction of the investment the industry will have to make to achieve these improvements was to be provided for by direct loans,” Wagoner said. “We’re just asking that those loans now be funded and that the rules and procedures to be able to draw against those loans be finalized promptly.”
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler have been working to get Congress to fund the loans after months of tight credit markets, tepid sales and high gasoline prices.
Fritz Henderson, GM’s chief operating officer, later told reporters the company may have to make further cuts if the loans don’t come through and the U.S. auto market doesn’t recover.