General Motors Asia Pacific (Japan) Ltd. said Tuesday that it will continue operating but might halve the number of brands it handles to two now that the U.S. auto giant has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Rick Brown, president of the Japan unit of General Motors Corp., also said GM will continue its Canadian joint venture with Suzuki Motor Corp., saying CAMI Automotive Inc. will become “part of the new GM.”
“This is not liquidation or bankruptcy,” Brown told reporters in Tokyo. “Profit- and managementwise, it will become an even stronger company than before.”
Brown emphasized that the Japanese unit, which sells four GM brands, faces no problems paying suppliers and dealers and will launch the new Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon as planned later this year.
“With the new GM as our parent company, we will continue our operations like before,” he said.
Brown said whether the Japanese unit can continue importing and selling the Hummer brand, which GM is expected to sell off, depends on the buyers. But he also said that GMAPJ will no longer be able to handle the Saab brand once GM completes the sale.
He said the Japanese unit, which sold about 1,600 cars in 2008, aims to boost annual sales to about 2,000 to 2,500 by 2011 and wants to roll out a hybrid car in Japan between 2012 and 2013.
He is not currently planning any job cuts at the Japanese unit, he said.
GM filed for bankruptcy protection Monday with liabilities totaling $172.81 billion in the largest nonfinancial bankruptcy in United States history. The filing came after the U.S. government said Sunday it will effectively nationalize the automaker to steer it to an early rehabilitation.
Good job: Yosano
Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano on Tuesday praised U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to reconstruct General Motors Corp. under temporary government control.
“This is a very tough way to resolve the outstanding issue,” Yosano said. “But for the economy, I believe he made a very good decision.”
Yosano, however, said the decision to revamp the major automaker under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection laws will likely lead to a slowdown in U.S. consumer spending as a result of job cuts and factory shutdowns associated with the turnaround process.
“I hope that GM will recover as early as possible,” Yosano said.
Asked about the influence of GM’s Chapter 11 filing on the Japanese economy and auto sector, he said: “There is an impact. But it is limited.”
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai said the GM failure and the U.S. government’s involvement in its restructuring efforts are “within expectations,” again denying any immediate, serious impact on Japanese industries.
“I understand there is so far no confusion,” Nikai said. “We will keep watching the situation.”
Nikai earlier said the government is ready to rescue Japanese auto parts suppliers.
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