Automotive Executives to Carpool to Next Hearing?

That might be a good idea! After being ridiculed by Congress and made fun of on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” the CEOs of Detroit’s big three automakers may end up making their return trip to Washington by car as they seek a federal bailout.

From the Associated Press:

The Detroit area’s auto industry, whose livelihood depends on the health of Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. spent the weekend e-mailing and discussing how to set up a giant car caravan to seek help from Congress.

What’s for certain is GM CEO Rick Wagoner won’t be going to Washington by corporate jet, although the company’s policy is not to comment on executive travel plans for security reasons, said spokesman Tony Cervone. A Chrysler spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on executive travel plans, and a message was left for a Ford spokesman.

The carpool idea came out of meetings on Friday at Dura Automotive Systems Inc., an auto parts maker in suburban Rochester Hills. President and CEO Tim Leuliette said that during the weekend they contacted the automakers, suppliers, dealership groups and the United Auto Workers and the movement began building.

“The proper people are talking to the proper people, and things are getting put together,” said Leuliette. “This really picked up momentum over the weekend.”

Industry representatives want Congress to see not just three CEOs in suits during the hearings, but the many people dependent on the automakers for their livelihoods, Leuliette said.

“Quite honestly, this is about America,” he said. “This is a process of people’s lives being affected, and sometimes they don’t know how to put a voice to those concerns.”

The movement comes after last week’s disastrous hearings in front of two Congressional committees. Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli and GM’s Wagoner traveled to Washington on separate corporate jets to seek $25 billion in government loans to help them make it through the worst U.S. auto sales downturn in 25 years.

Congress, though, abandoned a vote on the bailout after the appearances in which the automakers were criticized for lavish corporate travel, as well as for having poor business plans and high labor costs that some members said would keep them from being competitive with Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

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One Comment on “Automotive Executives to Carpool to Next Hearing?”


  1. The official statement was that the big three executives have a fleet of private jets for security reasons. Who do they need security from? I was glad to hear that GM will be selling 2 of it’s five private jets in 2009.

    I think on the way back to Washington in hopefully a car pool they should swing by and pick up Lee Iaccoca. I’m sure for a small fee he would be willing to be the educated spokesman for the big three. Lee has a way when it comes to securing government funding for saving the automotive industry.


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