Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wagoner sees no 'rush to privatize'

Friday, May 18, 2007
Wagoner sees no 'rush to privatize'
GM's chief executive says he doesn't expect his company, or Ford, to go the way of Chrysler.
Sharon Terlep / The Detroit News

General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner, in his first public comments on news that the Chrysler Group is being sold to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, said Thursday it's unlikely other auto companies will share the same fate as the Auburn Hills automaker.

While Wagoner said he expects further consolidation in the industry, he said he does not believe DaimlerChrysler AG's decision to sell Chrysler is the beginning of a trend.

His comments were part of a wide-ranging talk Thursday to a group of women business leaders in which Wagoner discussed diversity at GM, the automaker's efforts to create energy alternatives to fuel and the impact of gas prices on the U.S. auto market.

"I don't see a rush to privatize in the auto sector," Wagoner told reporters after his speech before Inforum, a women's business group formerly known as the Women's Economic Club.

Germany's DaimlerChrysler announced Monday that it was selling Chrysler to Cerberus in a $7.4 billion deal that will make Chrysler an all-American car company again.

Wagoner said he doesn't anticipate that GM or Ford Motor Co. will be purchased by private equity firms.

"I don't think you can rule anything out because the amounts of money that are tossed around are so big," he said. "But we're not thinking along those lines at this point."

Wagoner used his speech to take a shot at proponents of federal legislation that would force automakers to significantly boost the average fuel economy of their vehicle fleets.

He drew applause when he said GM is pursuing technology-backed ways -- and not "pie-in-the-sky theories, or unfunded mandates, or ill-conceived exercises in regulation" -- to make its cars and trucks more fuel efficient and reduce emissions, which have been linked to global warming. "We at GM are interested in real-world technologies that will make a measurable difference in reducing oil consumption and CO2 emissions today," Wagoner said.

Responding to questions from reporters, Wagoner said talks with bankrupt auto parts supplier Delphi Corp. are moving along, but that a resolution is not "imminent."

He also said rising gas prices may prompt consumers to shift to smaller vehicles, but won't likely drive them to compact or mini-cars.

"You begin to see a shift downward," he said. "That doesn't necessarily mean a shift to small vehicles."

You can reach Sharon Terlep at (313) 223-4686 or

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