By on January 27, 2011

GM has just dropped a press release [in .docx format here] announcing that it has withdrawn its request for $14.4b in low-cost government retooling loans through the Department of Energy’s “Section 136″ or ATVM loan program.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.

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22 Comments on “GM Withdraws $14.4b Government Loan Request...”


  • avatar
    Steven02

    Wow!  I don’t think anyone saw this coming.  I wonder if dealing with the DoE on the loans just became too much of a hassle.  I am guessing the answer is yes.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Why can’t GM just have a big bake sale akin to what local charities use to assist in feeding the 30 percent or so of local hillbilly kids who are not getting enough food?
    Yeah… there is real poverty in these parts.
     

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Good for GM. Like it or not, the company is well down the road to recovery. The government funded restructuring is working.
     

  • avatar
    Some Guy

    “Now, with GM’s request dropped from the queue, there could be as much as $10b left for other manufacturers.”
    And who will get the money instead? Will other manufacturers want to be vilified by stepping and putting their hands in the government’s cookie jar? My guess is that there will be takers, as the headlines probably wouldn’t be as big and negatively sensational as if “Bag Bad GM” would have taken the loans. Heck, the story would probably be so far back into the newspaper, it would be in the classifieds.
    Pfffff!!!

    • 0 avatar

      Give me one example of GM being “vilified” for applying for the 136 loans. Nobody “vilified” Ford and Nissan for taking them (Tesla and Fisker were vilified for building luxury EVs with government assistance).
      Of course, the size of GM’s loan application (for over half the program’s funds and possibly even more than is left in the fund) might have opened the General to some legitimate criticism… especially in light of the extraordinary assistance it has already received. But vilified? Not so much. The people who are most against the 136 loans have a beef with the politicians or DOE bureaucrats, not the manufacturers who apply for them.
      Either way, there’s no reason to make GM out as a victim in all this. They made what I believe to be an incredibly smart decision from a PR/marketing perspective. They weren’t entitled to the loans, and since they can apparently do without them (again, thanks to taxpayers), not applying for them helped them in the most important way possible: distancing the company from its “Government Motors” stigma.
      Instead of whining about the media, GM is finally taking accountability of its post-bailout perception issues… is there any chance The General’s fanboys can see this situation the same way?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Ed Niedermeyer: I’m guessing “Some Guys” comment was in reference to the large amount of snark aimed at GM on this site, no matter what they do, an attitude that was seemingly fostered by the previous management. Sometimes the sarcasm is deserved, other times not, IMO. There are lots of armchair quarterbacks here, but how do they know they’d act any better than some of the folks we (the public) routinely criticize (and not just matters concerning GM)? Walking a mile in another man’s moccasins and all that…
       
      Anyway, this looks like a promising start. We’ve seen some glimmers of hope coming out of the Ren Cen recently, I hope that it continues.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      There’s an old rule in dealing with government and budgets: Use it or lose it. If you are given access to a certain amount of money and do not use all of it in that year, so to speak, your budget goes down the following year. No one wants to leave money on the table. It is a game, after all. I know, I’ve been there. Even if this isn’t acccurate to what’s actually going on, I believe the comparison is. Maybe GM can sell RenCen back to Ford for some extra pocket change. Now if the General will just bring on the next-gen Impala, so I have a new-car-in-waiting in my near future!

    • 0 avatar

      I’m guessing “Some Guys” comment was in reference to the large amount of snark aimed at GM on this site, no matter what they do, an attitude that was seemingly fostered by the previous management.
      1: Doesn’t this piece directly contradict the claim that TTAC “aims a large amount of snark at GM no matter what they do?” The “good for them” bit was not intended as sarcasm, as I indicate in my comment above.
      2: Wait, we’re still characterizing TTAC in terms of its former management, which has been gone for well over a year? And we’re the ones getting bashed for being negative “no matter what GM does”? Teacher, heal thyself.
      I have no problem with people wanting to support GM… but portraying The General as a victim, let alone a victim of a press corps that is plenty obsequious already, let alone a victim of this rinky-dink little website, is just absurd. And it’s not just a disingenuous argument… it’s a way of chilling legitimate criticism and discussion.
      As for the “armchair quarterback” comment, I have never pretended that I would do a better job of running GM (or any automaker) than the next guy… but that doesn’t mean TTAC shouldn’t cover stories (about any automaker) with a critical eye. Somebody has to. And anyone who wants to pretend that there is no such thing as a legitimate criticism of GM (or any other automaker) will find plenty to like in the rest of the automotive media.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Nope.  No anti-GM slant here at TTAC.

      Nope, nope, nope.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/pick-on-someone-from-your-own-model-year/#comment-1709629

      @geozinger – I agree, and I think you nailed it; and just as Ed defends himself TTAC publishes a classic piece of TTAC GM snark.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Ed – “Doesn’t this piece directly contradict the claim that TTAC…”
      One swallow does not make a spring. The editorial tone of this website has been mostly critical of GM; sometimes calling them out for normal industry practices or even trivial stuff. There has also been an editorial approach to the bailout that seems to me driven by personal political views as much as events.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The people who are most against the 136 loans have a beef with the politicians or DOE bureaucrats, not the manufacturers who apply for them.

      Interesting concept, but this doesn’t seem to apply for auto bailouts.

  • avatar
    Ironghost

    Will the automotive press crucify the rest of the industry if they take the loans?  Didn’t think so.

  • avatar
    tced2

    The automobile business can be very profitable if the facilities are used at near their capacity.  With the bankruptcy, GM had a chance to right-size their facilities and rearrange their liabilities.  The loans are not needed because the company is generating the cash with their (right-sized) operations.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    I believe Ford got $5.9 Billion, Tesla – $465 Million, Nissan – $1.6 Billion, Fisker – $529 Million.

  • avatar

    Wow. This is a very smart move on GM’s part and they do deserve praise for it. Three cheers for not relying on government assistance… what a concept.

    Maybe all those rebadged German and Korean vehicles are actually selling!

  • avatar

    one right move does not indicate a trend. that said, good play GM.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Not to look on the dark side but has anyone considered that they were going to be rejected, so instead of the headlines reading “GM denied government re-tooling loans”, they read “GM decides to go it alone”.  Remember that for every $ of the tooling loans taken the automaker had to spend $2 of it’s own.  But despite GM’s nice new shiny balance sheet $43.2 billion in retooling, etc wasn’t reasonable, unless A. they were hoping for revisions during that latest session that didn’t happen.

  • avatar

    Ford just announced an $8B profit. My guess is that GM’s bottom line has been cleaned up to the point that their next announcement will be about profits in the billions of dollars. With one eye towards their stock price and the other towards the stigma of Government Motors, they made a smart move. That way when the profit announcement is made, they’ll look that much the stronger, buoying the stock price, while simultaneously avoiding the image of asking for a handout while making big profits.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    It’s official; the Volt is perfect. Nothing left to do but sit back and relax.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Back in reality, GM’s product is still under assault by Ford, Hyundai, VW, etc etc and Honda and Toyota are not dead.
    Nice try, but boy, the ‘images in the mirror closer than they appear’ is pretty creepy when it’s the Mark on Excellence on your azz.

  • avatar
    danrowder


    The glut of articles that came out this week about how GM & Chrysler had “Fixed” the ATVM loan for themselves seems to have put too much scrutiny on GM and further review would have tracked back to the dirty-secrets of who they bribed in Washington to get a private slush fund just for themselves at taxpayer and competitor expense. Nissan caught them and so they got some of the money too, making it Slush money AND Hush Money. No company would walk away from $14B that they are a shoe-in for unless they realized that deeper investigations would bring them to their knees and link all of the payoffs and “special dinners” together. Rattner, the guy at the White House who ran the car money is now facing criminal charges. The DOE staff that worked on it have been fired or “forcibly migrated” and all are under investigation by the Republicans who hated the Detroit deals and law enforcement. The big crime is all coming apart at the seams. You-know-what rolls downhill and Rattner started the heap unraveling.
    FROM THE TRUTH ABOUT CARS:
    The Department of Energy’s $25b Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan program was very nearly used as a slush fund to keep GM and Chrysler afloat during the dangerous days leading up to the federal auto bailout. Though President Bush’s decision to use TARP to rescue America’s failing automakers took away the need to tap the so-called “retooling loan” program to fund America’s auto bailout, that decision also contributed to a long delay in the allocation of the ATVM loans. Because the loans require applicants prove “financial viability,” GM and Chrysler’s requests (which account for $17.4b out of the remaining pool of $16.7b in non-allocated loans) have been on hold, and with them, every other automaker still seeking approval for its requests. And now, with no word from the DOE on the loan program since last April, congress is agitating for the DOE to make with the loans already. Senator Diane Feinstein captures the frustration in a letter published by the Detroit News
    “On multiple occasions, the department has missed internal deadlines for initial decisions, term negotiations, final decisions and loan closure,” she wrote, saying the department failed to give applicants “a clear timeline.”
    But did the DOE miss deadlines and string automakers along out of negligence, or because it had to wait in order to fulfill the loan program’s mission, namely supporting the bailed-out automakers?
     
    This question doesn’t have an easy answer: after all, few in the private sector expect rapid action from governmental bureaucracies. The slow allocation of federal loans really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. At the same time, the ATVM program has been in place since 2008, and automakers like Ford, Nissan, Tesla and Fisker have jointly received some $8.3b for programs ranging from Tesla and Fisker’s EV luxury car projects to Nissan’s Leaf and more fuel-efficient versions of Ford’s mass-market models. If the DOE could approve billions for non-bailed-out automakers, surely there is nothing out of the ordinary going on with the DOE’s bureaucracy. Curious minds must, therefore, look to pending requests for an explanation of their delay.
    And those requests tell an interesting story. With $8.3b of the program’s loans already spent, GM’s $14.4b request would, if approved, soak up nearly all remaining funds. In response to both this reality and Fiat’s changes to Chrysler’s efficiency priorities, the Pentastar has reduced its loan request from $8.55b to “around $3b.” Had Chrysler not made its request reduction, the two bailed-out automakers would have accounted for all but $1b of the retooling loan program’s funds. Even with that reduction, Chrysler and GM’s outstanding requests amount to some $700m more than the program has left to give out… and that’s not counting the smaller firms still hoping for a piece of the pie, including ZAP, ALTe, Aptera, Coda and more. Or the fact that
    because the costs have been higher than expected, the Energy Department won’t be able to loan the entire $25 billion, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said. Auto executives say the agency may only be able to loan another $10 billion.
    The fact that GM and Chrysler are requesting every remaining penny in the ATVM program, combined with delays to the payout of remaining funds sends a fairly unambiguous message: the remaining ATVM money will all be going to GM and Chrysler. Though initial delays to paying out ATVM money to GM and Chrysler were due to the program’s “viability” clause, those concerns were (in theory) circumvented by bailing out those two companies. More recently, GM’s request was “suspended” while it entered the IPO process, an issue that could now be holding up Chrysler’s request. Another concern could be political: with the bailouts still a divisive issue with the American people, the White House may be seeking to delay giving the automakers it owns the rest of the ATVM money as a way of avoiding accusations of political favoritism.

  • avatar

    GM withdrew because there were probably a lot of stipulations about using the money to improve American production facilities. GM has already retooled many of their remaining factories and would have had to reopen closed facilities to use this money. Rejecting the loan allows them to continue to offshore manufacturing. The DOE should use the loans for wind farm financing or loan the money to ford so they can tool up to build the focus EV & transit connect in volume. If GM can’t retool and refocus on affordable EVs then they may go bankrupt again in 5 years when the oil crunch happens and they are still too heavily invested in inefficient trucks/suvs.


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