A healthy auto industry is critical to the economy.
When General Motors celebrated its 100th anniversary this month, it was a time to recall not only our achievements but also the challenges we overcame in our first century. We endured economic upheavals such as the Great Depression and produced vehicles to defend America in war and drive our economy in peace.
Today we are facing an array of challenges that are alarming, not only for our industry, but for our nation as well. Fuel prices have risen precipitously at the same time as the US economy has slowed. Financial markets are volatile. We are ever more dependent on unstable or hostile regions to supply our oil. Concerns are rising about the potential impact of climate change.
The challenges we face today demand nothing less than the reinvention of the automobile. And General Motors and the rest of the US auto industry are striving to achieve that goal. At GM, we have made a significant commitment to produce alternate-propulsion vehicles. We have six hybrid models on the market today and will have nine by mid-2009. The Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle that will go on sale in late 2010, will deliver 40 miles of gasoline- and emission-free driving on a single charge and hundreds more miles by using a small gas engine to generate additional electricity.
But uncertain economic and market conditions threaten the progress that we are making and that American consumers are demanding we accelerate. That acceleration – which requires significant investment – is at risk because of limited access to capital.