The cash burn rate through 2008 at General Motors, Chrysler and, to a lesser degree, Ford, has been one of the big new stories in the auto business. After a disastrous third quarter, GM was down to about $11 billion and, along with Chrysler, was in danger of having insufficient cash on hand to pay bills at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Toyota has been raking in the profits for ages now and was thought to have up to $90 billion in reserves as recently as a couple of years ago. The other day, however, John McElroy reported that Toyota may be down to only $18.5 billion in cash with rapidly spiraling debts.

The company has spent heavily on new factories and new products in the U.S. in recent years, but saw its sales plummet as much as the domestics in the second half of 2008. Its total current short-term liabilities are now roughly equal to its total current assets, and its cash reserves put the company on par with Ford. In recent months, Toyota has been moving aggressively to cut costs and budgets have been slashed company wide. The automaker famous for avoiding layoffs was also reportedly considering shedding some jobs in the U.S. and UK, but had denied those reports are true.

[Source: Autoline Detroit]

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