One of the issues that is central to the survival of General Motors and Chrysler is how comfortable people are buying their vehicles while they attempt to restructure. The media paints a pretty bleak picture of these two automakers, so some buyers may avoid General Motors and Chrysler vehicles altogether because they fear that the companies won't be around to honor their warrantees. Part of the President's announcement today was the establishment of a Warranty Commitment Program backed by the federal government that ensures if you buy a GM or Chrysler vehicle, your warranty will still be honored regardless of what happens to each automaker.

The plan is open to any domestic automaker, and GM and Chrysler have already agreed to participate. The door is open for Ford to participate later, but right now the lone domestic automaker that has not requested government aid will not participate in the warrantee program.

The program mandates that an accounting reserve be established on paper that contains 125% of the projected warranty costs for each new vehicle sold by GM and Chrysler. The automakers will contribute 15% of those projected warranty costs for each vehicle, while the U.S. government will cover the remaining 110% from Treasury funds. A separate company will be established to manage the funds, which, in the event an automaker goes under, will facilitate the transfer of warranty obligations from the automaker to a new warranty service provider.

Buyers don't have to do anything to participate in the program, which just happens automatically when you buy a new GM or Chrysler vehicle during their restructuring periods. The government hasn't stated who determines when these restructuring periods are over, but suffice it to say that for the foreseeable future, any new GM or Chrysler vehicle will be fully covered under its original warranty. Who will service that warranty, be it the automaker or a different service provider, is an open question.

Follow the jump for the government's official details on the Warranty Commitment Program.

[Photo by The Toad | CC2.0]


Obama Administration's New Warrantee Commitment Program

Today, the Treasury Department announced an innovative new program to give consumers who are
considering new car purchases the confidence that even in this difficult economic period, their
warrantees will be honored. This program is part of the Administration's broader program to
stabilize the auto industry and stand behind a restructuring effort that will result in stronger, more
competitive and viable American car companies.

The Administration has committed to working with both GM and Chrysler during a finite period to
develop improved restructuring plans. The goal in both cases is to help these companies emerge
with a fresh start toward becoming competitive businesses without taxpayer assistance. During this
period of restructuring, the Administration is committed to standing behind the process. The
Administration is confident that GM will emerge as stronger company and is hopeful that Chrysler
can reach an agreement with Fiat that leads to a viable future. However, no matter what the
outcome, consumers should have confidence that if they buy new cars from either company their
warrantees will be honored.

The warranty program will cover all warranties on new vehicles purchased from participating auto
manufacturers during the period in which those manufacturers are restructuring. Both General
Motors and Chrysler have agreed to participate in the program. Specifically, the program will:

• Create a separate account that will be funded with cash contributed by the manufacturer and
a loan from the US Government to pay for repairs covered by the manufacturer's warranty
on each new vehicle sold by a participating domestic auto manufacturer during its
restructuring period. The cash contribution will be 125% of the costs projected by the
manufacturer to satisfy anticipated claims under the warranty issued on that vehicle; and

• In the event of a failure of a participating auto manufacturer, appoint a program
administrator who, together with the US Government, will identify an auto service provider
to supply warranty services.

The program will help provide much needed certainty to consumers, and a boost to the auto
industry, during the restructuring period. While the Administration recognizes that general
economic uncertainty may continue to impact new vehicle sales, and that the ultimate solution for a
healthy auto industry is a broad restructuring of the industry and a general economic recovery, the
program will support and encourage the continued viability and restructuring of the auto industry by
mitigating consumer uncertainty that is depressing demand for new vehicles.

What does the program mean for consumers?

• If you buy a new GM or Chrysler car during this restructuring period you will be eligible.

• You do not have to do anything to receive the U.S. commitment to your warrantee. It is
automatic.

• The U.S. Treasury will work with the auto companies to back-stop your warrantee, and will
commit to honoring that warrantee in the event that the manufacturer cannot.

Background on the Warrantee Commitment Program

Program Operation:

As part of their normal business operations, auto manufacturers establish an accounting reserve
for each new vehicle sold, which reflects the expected cost of providing warranty services on
that vehicle. Under the Warranty Commitment Program, the participating auto manufacturer
will contribute cash to a separate special purpose company whose sole purpose is to pay covered
warranty claims. The total amount of cash to be contributed will equal to 125% of the expected
cost of paying for warranty service on each covered vehicle. The manufacturer will contribute
15% of the projected cost from its own funds, and Treasury will provide additional funds to
cover 110% of the projected cost. The company holding the funds will be run separately from
the auto manufacturer and will be able to continue paying warranty claims even if the auto
manufacturer goes into bankruptcy or goes out of business. In that case, the special purpose
company will use the funds in that account to facilitate the transfer of warranty obligations from
the issuing manufacturer to a new warranty services provider.

The program will be run by a third party program administrator with the backing of financial
resources allocated from the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Eligible Auto Manufacturers:

Any domestic auto manufacturer is eligible to participate in the program. If a manufacturer
decides to participate, it will work with the third party administrator to establish a warranty
support program. Participating auto manufacturers will contribute 15% of the cash reserve for
each new warranty they issue. The US Government will provide the remainder of the funding
for the cash reserve on each new warranty issued by the participating auto manufacturer during
the period in which it is enrolled in the program.

If the auto manufacturer goes out of business, the program administrator and the US
Government will conduct a process to identify a qualified third party warranty service provider
to assume responsibility for all of the manufacturer's warranties covered by the program, in
exchange for the assets of the program. Because of the significant funding of the reserve
account, Treasury is confident that qualified third parties will be interested in taking over the
warrantee obligations.

Eligible Warranties:

The program will cover the participating manufacturer's warranty on every new car sold during
its restructuring period.