- The Washington Times - Friday, July 10, 2009

UPDATED:

The new, leaner General Motors emerged Friday morning with CEO Fritz Henderson vowing to sustain the speed and deftness that help the company quickly exit from bankruptcy court and focus on “customers, cars and culture.”

“Today marks the beginning of a new company, one that allows us to return to designing and selling cars,” Mr. Henderson said at GM headquarters in Detroit.

Acknowledging the company’s failure to promptly respond to buyers and market changes resulted in roughly $80 billion in loss since 2005. Mr. Henderson said speed “will be the new norm.”

“One thing we have learned from the last 100 days is that GM can move quickly and decisively,” he said.

He also thanked the governments and citizens of the Canada and United States for the billions in bailout money that kept the company from collapse.

“They were a key part in making this happen,” Mr. Henderson said. “We’ll work hard to repay that trust and that money.”

GM received $50 billion from the United States, which now owns 60.8 percent of the company. Canada gets 11.7 percent, the United Auto Workers union gets 17.5 percent, and unsecured bondholders from the former GM get 10 percent.

Lawyers worked overnight to complete the transfer of GM’s viable assets — which includes factories, money and intellectual properties — to a new company controlled by the U.S. government.

The company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy court in 40 days.

Mr. Henderson said GM will “experiment” with selling cars on eBay, as part of the company’s new, global awareness. He said customers will be able to bid on cars like they do on other merchandise on the Web site.

He said the company will now manufacture and sell just four lines: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC cars, trucks and crossovers. It will introduce 10 new models in the U.S. and 17 overseas in the next 18 months, including the Chevy Viva in Latin America.

“Customers are our first priority because they need to be our top priority, our only priority,” he said. “We’ll be obsessed with this.”

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