At auto show, Big Three optimism
Fuel efficiency in unveiled products
DETROIT - Just weeks after ending a year marked by dismal sales and a federal bailout of
Amid cheering employees, dealers, and retirees at the North American International Auto Show, General Motors Corp. announced plans to build a 40-mile-per-gallon minicar for the US market and unveiled an electric-powered Cadillac concept car.
Chrysler LLC's chief executive told reporters that while its key new products won't be in showrooms until next year, the automaker expects to survive 2009 and remain independent.
Last month, the Bush administration approved $17.4 billion in short-term loans for GM and Chrysler after they warned they could run out of cash. Ford didn't take any government money because its executives say it has access to enough credit to get through the industry's sales slump.
The chief executives of all three yesterday told reporters their companies are on a path to recovery and are here to stay.
GM's Rick Wagoner said the company's restructuring plans submitted to Congress, which include concessions from the United Auto Workers union and other cost cuts, combined with GM's lineup of new products will make the company prosper.
Chrysler's Robert Nardelli said that while his company's plan for new vehicles has a hole in it for 2009, the automaker will make it to 2010, when it plans to introduce an electric car and a subcompact. It also has a new 300 sedan, Charger performance car, and Jeep Grand Cherokee in the works.
Many analysts have predicted, however, that Chrysler will be acquired by another automaker by next year.
Ford's executive chairman, Bill Ford Jr., said the company is working on four high-mileage electric vehicles. Ford plans to have a battery-powered commercial van on the market in 2010.
GM's stable of 17 new or upcoming models displayed yesterday also had a focus on fuel efficiency.
But the surprise was the unveiling of the Cadillac Converj concept car, designed to go 40 miles on electric power alone after being recharged from a standard wall outlet. A small gasoline engine would extend the range to hundreds of miles.
It's the same powertrain technology GM is using in the Chevrolet Volt, a much-anticipated extended-range electric vehicle set to go on sale next year.
Chrysler unveiled a concept version of an electric-powered sedan and added the Jeep Patriot small SUV to the stable of electric vehicles it is developing.