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General Motors and Chrysler terminated the contracts of thousands of dealers while the automakers were in bankruptcy proceedings; a move that was required by the Obama Administration's auto task force as a condition of bankruptcy. The scheme was heralded as a way to save the struggling automakers millions or even billions of dollars, but special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Neil Barofsky claims in an audit that the dealer closings weren't "necessarily critical t

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Steven Rattner, the man who headed the Auto Task Force, saved Michigan from bankruptcy, shepherded the still-contentious resurrections of General Motors and Chrysler and will soon have a book on his time in the trenches, has said his little lambs are doing better than he expected they would a year ago. Not only are they outstripping the targets set for them, but he thinks the government could get $40 billion of the $50 billion it threw at GM last year.

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Last December General Motors began repaying its debt to the U.S. government by making a $1 billion payment to its U.S. debtors and another $192 million to Canada. Company CEO Ed Whitacre promised that the payments would keep coming every quarter until the loan was paid off in June, 2010, and with the first quarter of 2010 coming to a close, The General is about due for another payment. Keeping with Big Ed's word, the company issued a statement on Thursday that the next installment of another bil

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Good news, the check is in the mail! General Motors issued a (very) brief press release this afternoon stating that the automaker had delivered on its promise to issue its first reimbursement checks to the U.S. and Canadian governments by the end of the year. GM sent $1 billion to the feds and $192 million to the Canadian government, and GM reiterated in the statement that it would complete payments totaling $6.7 billion (to the U.S. government) by June 2010.

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2009 isn't quite over yet, but we're pretty sure most automakers would rather forget that it ever happened. And while General Motors and Chrysler suffered the pain and humiliation of bankruptcy and workers lost thousands of jobs and many plants and dealerships closed, the good news is that the General and the Pentastar are now more fiscally healthy than they've been in ages. The bad news is that it cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $82 billion to save what has been called hundreds of thousands of

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Two weeks ago Fiat and Chrysler unleashed an ambitious five-year plan to return Detroit's number three automaker to financial and product health. The plan called for 14 all-new models based mostly on Fiat platforms and ten more vehicles which will receive much-needed attention. While Senator John McCain isn't so sure Chrysler will survive the next few years, Obama Auto Task Force Chief Ron Bloom likes what he sees.

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The last two chief financial officers at General Motors, Rick Wagoner and Fritz Henderson, eventually became CEO. Ray Young, who has been CFO at the General for less than a year and a half, likely won't make it to the top. The Detroit News reports that Young is going to resign his post as CFO in the weeks ahead, and he may be only one of a few departures among senior GM brass.

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Steve Rattner, the former Wall Street executive who was tapped by the Obama Administration run point for the Auto Task Force, is reportedly stepping down after five months on the job. According to a statement from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Rattner (above, far right) will now "transition back to private life and his family in New York City." He added, "I hope that he takes another opportunity to bring his unique skills to government service in the future."

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According to Reuters, General Motors is on its way into bankruptcy court today in an effort to win approval and access to additional federal funding under its asset-split plan. The automaker filed for Chapter 11 protection just 30 days ago, but it will now go before Judge Robert Gerber to sell desirable assets (think: Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, Buick) to "New GM" and jettison various debts and negative assets by consigning them to "Old GM," which would be liquidated. If it succeeds in winning cou

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To date, the U.S. government has reportedly given General Motors, Chrysler, their financial institutions and various industry suppliers about $80 billion in taxpayer money, and Congress wants to know when we're going to get that money back. The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing with the Auto Task Force for the first time to discuss the state of the government loans, as well as whether or not taxpayers will ever be paid back.

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Ralph Nader, the man who single-handedly sank the Chevrolet Corvair by exposing its safety faults in his book Unsafe At Any Speed, has unexpectedly appeared at the side of General Motors. In a letter written to Senator Chris Dodd, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Barney Frank, Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services, Nader warns the Congressmen about the risk of leaving GM's fate in the hands of the Auto Task Force, or what he calls "a smal

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June 1, 2009 is turning into the equivalent of General Motors' D-Day, and every day seems to bring new events that are being planned in advance of it. GM had more than 6,000 dealerships at the end of last year, and in the initial viability plan it offered to the government, the automaker pledged to close 25% of those over the next five years. As with the rest of the plan, the Auto Task Force said "That isn't enough."

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If General Motors' saga were a play by Aeschylus, today marks the day when Kent Kresa, GM's interim chairman, returns from a visit to the Oracle at Delphi and informs everyone that the signs are not auspicious. There's been much talk of the bondholder issues that GM faces, and the news today is that the deadline for the debt-for-equity transaction isn't June 1 -- it's this Friday. That's when a bondholder agreement would need to be in place so GM would have everything sorted before its upcoming

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According to the Detroit Free Press, General Motors interim chairman, Kent Kresa, has been asked by president Obama's administration to replenish the automaker's board with fresh blood. Kresa said that while the board did achieve "historic things" recently, like renegotiating the UAW pay scale, he also said that the board didn't fully comprehend the magnitude of the downturn.

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GM's most recent offer to its bondholders offered a little bit of cash and a little bit of equity. GM CEO Fritz Henderson's example was that a holder of $1,000 in bonds would end up with $333 and a some equity. After conferring with the Auto Task Force, however, that offer was deemed excessive in light of GM's situation so a new deal is being readied for bondholder approval.

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Click above for a high res gallery of the 2011 Chevy Volt

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Click above for a high res gallery of the 2011 Chevy Volt

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Click above for high-res image gallery of the 2011 Chevy Volt

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GM and Chrysler have until Tuesday to complete the financial restructuring demanded by the government under the terms of the bridge loans. It is unlikely that they will make that target. The sticking point for GM is unwillingness on the part of bondholders to agree to what's being asked: GM needs to transform $27 billion of debt into liquidity, and that means a serious dilution of bondholder equity.

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Curious what it takes to be a member of the recently-created Auto Task Force? Thanks to an email sent out by Harry J. Wilson, a newly-hired Task Force worker, there's no need to wonder. Some knowledge of the auto industry would reportedly be helpful, though prospective applicants and their family members cannot currently own any stock in the Detroit automakers or serve on any of the D-3's boards of directors. Would-be applicants would also need to be "sufficiently intellectually and professional

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Now that President Obama had appointed the task force that will study the future of the auto industry in this country, its time for them to get to work. The team spent last week looking over the latest viability plans from General Motors and Chrysler. Today, Steven Rattner and Ron Bloom, advisers to the task force will come to Michigan where they will sit down with officials at both GM and Chrysler to discuss the plans and learn more about both company's future product directions. While they are

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