With Car Czar Delayed, Automakers Spin Wheels

GM and Chrysler find no one behind the wheel of auto restructuring

By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 6, 2009 9:14 AM CST

(Newser) – Amid the federal appointment frenzy, the lack of a "car czar" has received little attention, but the vacancy is holding up automakers trying to meet restructuring deadlines included in their $17.4 billion federal loan, the Wall Street Journal reports. The loans require General Motors and Chrysler to submit plans by Feb. 17, but less than 2 weeks away, there is no one to review them.

Financier Steven Rattner is the leading candidate for the position, but the vetting process has been slow. The likelihood that GM and Chrysler will need further cash by next month is growing even as measures mandated in the earlier loan—the renegotiation of union contracts and convincing bondholders to take stock in exchange for billions in debt—await approval.

Financier Steven Rattner, founder of private-equity firm Quadrangle, is the front runner for the "car czar" position.   (Getty Images)
Renegotiation of labor contracts with the United Auto Workers union is one of the key benchmarks for the auto industry to continue to receive federal money.   (Getty Images)
Chrysler Group assembly line workers install powertrains into a new 2007 Chrysler Sebring Sedans at the Chrysler Group Sterling Heights Assembly Plant September 14, 2006 in Sterling Heights, Michigan.   (Getty Images)
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Our sleeves are rolled up, we're working hard on the plan and we intend to meet the Feb 17 deadline.
- GM spokesman Greg Martin

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