GM CEO Doesn't Predict More Privatization In Auto Industry

GM Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner, said Thursday that the move to take Chrysler private will not be the norm in the auto industry moving forward.

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Corp. has paid close attention to the sale of rival Chrysler to a private equity firm, but doesn't expect other auto companies to travel a similar path, GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said Thursday.

''I don't see a mad rush to privatize in our sector,'' Wagoner said following a speech to female business leaders in Detroit. ''I see this as an individual case.”

While the pending sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management LP is a major change in the industry, Wagoner said new technology, alternative fuel sources and union negotiations are higher on GM's priority list.

GM is currently going through a painful restructuring that has seen the company reduce its salaried work force and cut about 35,000 production jobs.

''We're focused on getting our business turned around,'' Wagoner told reporters following his speech. ''Let's try to move and get Delphi wrapped up. We've got to be well-prepared for the (United Auto Workers) negotiations this fall.''

Despite the automaker's troubles, Wagoner was upbeat in Thursday's keynote address at the Inforum annual meeting. He said GM is committed to making more models that run on E-85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

''If all of the E-85-capable vehicles on the road today, combined with those that GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have already committed to produce over the next 10 years, were to run on E-85, we could displace 22 billion gallons of gasoline annually,'' Wagoner said.

The oil industry wants a smaller percentage of ethanol used with gasoline and is lobbying against proposals requiring that gas stations install pumps for E-85.

Nationally, the cry for alternative fuels has grown with the rise in gasoline prices.

While Wagoner doesn't expect prices to reach $4 per gallon, he said the recent surge to more than $3 per gallon is responsible for slower vehicle demand over the past few months.

Thursday's forum did give Wagoner the chance to tout Detroit-based GM's development of electric-powered vehicles, in addition to hybrid cars and trucks like the Saturn Aura Green Line.

''At GM, we'll introduce more new hybrid models this year than any other automaker,'' Wagoner said. ''By the end of 2008, we'll be selling eight different hybrid models here in the U.S.''

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