The U.S. and Canadian governments now own a substantial portion of General Motors. If that means that us taxpayers are the real owners. So Consumer Reports Cars wants to know: what do you think GM should make?
General Motors has reached an agreement with the government to let consumers file what are known as product-liability claims after the company escapes from bankruptcy protection. The big win for consumers means that if a manufacturing defect in an old G.M. causes injuries in the future, consumers will still be able to sue G.M. in state court.
After failing to get its debt-for-stock offer approved last week, and missing the June 1st deadline for concessions from creditors and its union, GM will file for bankruptcy later today. Reuters notes that its filing will be the third-largest in U.S. history, after Lehman Bros and Washington Mutual, and the largest ever in manufacturing.
Let’s say the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into a failing company. How strongly should it try to protect that money once the company files for bankruptcy? The Washington Post is reporting that the plan for GM—which may go belly up as early as Monday—is for federal officials to select 5 or 6 of the company’s new board members, and have a say over which 6 of the existing board will remain. The UAW gets to choose another, and Canada might possibly be given one slot to fill. The rest of us will probably just get t-shirts or a souvenir mug.
GM’s debt-for-stock offer to its bondholders expires tonight. The company needs 90% of the bondholders to agree but has a fraction of that, notes CNN, which almost assures a bankruptcy filing in the coming days. We say “almost” because it’s possible the Treasury Department will extend talks with bondholders until June 1st, when GM’s other deadlines hit.
Nearing the end of his lease on a Chevy Equinox, Tom wanted to turn the vehicle in before he used up his allotted miles, and drop it from his insurance as soon as he could. The dealership he leased it from, their lot clogged with cars and trucks that nobody particularly wants to buy, wasn’t really keen to take it back. So Tom got creative.
General Motors is projected to default on its next bond payment—the last before the June 1st government-imposed restructuring deadline. Next freeway exit: bankruptcy.
How would you like to ride down Second Avenue in this? And where would you park it once you got to work? The P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility Project), recently unveiled by General Motors and Segway, can go 35 miles on one battery charge, seats two, and reaches speeds of 35mph. Whee!
Consumerist reader Darkrose writes, “I just got this in my e-mail. Thought you guys might be interested in it.” In the email, GM’s president Troy Clarke is in high PR mode, pointing out the grave consequences and emphasizing that GM wants not “a bailout but rather a loan that will be repaid.” We thought other readers who aren’t GM customers would find it interesting.
What do you do when your industry starts to go belly up and you can’t make enough revenue to stay afloat? If you’re a short-sighted U.S. auto maker, you beg the government for $25-50 billion in immediate, low-interest loans in order to retool your plants, so you can start producing the hybrid cars you should have been planning years ago.
Consumerist reader Chris decided to take advantage of GM’s please-buy-a-car Employee Discount sale that we wrote about yesterday, so he headed off to two different dealerships in the NY/NJ area. What he found were deserted showrooms with salesmen who ignored him or argued with him over the existence of specific models he’d looked at online. He adds, “tonight I’m off to Toyota for some hard numbers on a Corolla and Camry.”
GM is desperate to boost its sales this month, so the company is offering some steep discounts under its “Employee Pricing” sale. The car blog KickingTires is covering the discounts and points out that “almost all of the prices are around 10% off, which is big in terms of car sales.” For example, you can save $9,000 on a Hummer H3. Of course, you’ll spend that much on gas for it in the first week, but there are other options as well, like Saturns, Chevys, and even the 2008 Corvette Z06 (which we mention separately because KickingTires says powerful sports cars are usually exempt from this sort of sale, but not this time).
The FCC has announced that they will be examining the practice of “embedded advertising” on television and will decide on what additional disclosure messages should be provided to protect the audience. This differs from simple product placement in that embedded advertising interweaves products into plot lines and dialogue, essentially, transforming a normal scene into an advertisement. The FCC contends that additional disclosure messages are necessary to protect viewers who may not be aware that advertisers are paying to have their products written into the plots of TV shows. Details, inside…
In an effort to spur sales, General Motors is offering no-interest, six-year loans on new vehicle purchases through June 30th. Unfortunately, only the slow-selling models (i.e., not very fuel efficient) are included in the sale. Oh, also they’re raising prices on 2009 models. [New York Times]
Bob Lutz, GM’s vice president and product chief, told reporters this week that new federal guidelines that require 35mpg fuel efficiency by 2020 (yes, more than a decade from now) are so stringent that it will end up costing an average of $6,000 more per vehicle. “That cost will have to be passed on to consumers,” he then threatened. We can’t help but feel sorry for GM. After all, this whole “better fuel efficiency” topic was only brought up, what, like two or three months ago? And GM only has twelve years to find cost-effective (we’d say “innovative” but don’t want to put too much pressure on such a backwards, fearful company) ways to lighten cars and improve engines.
General Motors has recalled 313,000 vehicles over concerns that a fluid leak could send motorists sliding brake-lights first into hedges. The recall, however, won’t begin until February 2008.