Updated 0905 with statement from GM
US President Barack Obama has decided to scrap plans for an industry “car czar” to instead form a government task force to oversee the restructuring of the struggling US car manufacturing industry.
There was no immediate word on when President Obama plans to unveil his strategy, but it is known it will happen sometime after tomorrow when both General Motors and Chrysler have to submit new turnaround plans to demonstrate how they plan to become viable after receiving their cumulative US$13.4 billion in emergency aid.
The presidential task force will be composed of members from the departments of Treasury, Labour, Transportation, Commerce, and Energy, the National Economic Council, the White House Office of Energy and Environment and the Council of Economic Advisers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The previous plan was to name a single representative or “car czar” with sweeping powers.
Both GM and Chrysler have said they expect to meet cost-cutting targets set out under the government bailout, which include making blue-collar labor costs competitive with Japanese automakers that operate factories in the US.
GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Company have cut 250,000 jobs since the start of the decade and are looking to cut more.
GM released the following statement at 0900 this morning:
GM welcomes the creation of a Presidential Task Force on Autos. We expect to meet soon with this team to share GM’s detailed restructuring plan to ensure our long term viability and to meet the requirements of the U.S. Treasury loan agreements.
Longer term, we see an opportunity to establish a constructive working relationship with the Task Force that strengthens understanding of our industry across the Federal government. We believe this Task Force can help the Administration and Congress to develop integrated policies that will support our nation’s manufacturing and technology base and overall competitiveness.