GM has just dropped a press release [in .docx format here] announcing that it has withdrawn its request for $14.4b in low-cost government retooling loans through the Department of Energy’s “Section 136″ or ATVM loan program. Says CFO Chris Liddell
This decision is based on our confidence in GM’s overall progress and strong, global business performance. Withdrawing our DOE loan application is consistent with our goal to carry minimal debt on our balance sheet. Our forgoing government loans will not slow our aggressive plans to bring more new vehicles and technologies to the market as quickly as we can. We will continue to make the necessary investments to assert our industry leadership in technology and fuel economy.
Color us stunned. The “136” loan program was nearly used as a slush fund to bail out GM and Chrysler before President Bush ruled that the automakers qualified for TARP relief. Shortly after the bailout, GM said that the loan program was “one of the sources of liquidity GM is factoring into its plans in order to meet its capital requirements in the future.” More recently, it seemed that the loan program was on hold while GM and Chrysler were qualifying for loan requests that would have drained the program of funds. Now, with GM’s request dropped from the queue, there could be as much as $10b left for other manufacturers. Plus, by turning down cheap government loans, GM has made its first major (voluntary) step towards beating back the Government Motors moniker. Good for them.