Chrysler Says All Sides Made Concessions

Automaker's president isn't giving details of the business plan that will be presented to Congress, but says it will tackle product mix, vehicle pricing and quality and fiscal responsibility.

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Chrysler's bailout plan will contain necessary concessions from all players to ensure success, the company's president said Tuesday at a town hall meeting at the port of Baltimore.

Chrysler LLC President and Vice Chairman Jim Press didn't give details of the business plan that will be presented to Congress, but said he says it will tackle product mix, vehicle pricing and quality, and fiscal responsibility.

"The plan will include all of the concessions that are necessary from all of the constituents to make sure we succeed, from ourselves from our own organization, from our associates, our investors, our banks, from our business partners, dealers, the members or our unions," Press said. "We're all in this together. We're all in. This is a serious opportunity for us to redefine our industry and compete in America."

CEOs of Detroit's big three automakers' appear before lawmakers this week to request $25 billion in government loans. The CEOs were questioned sharply at hearings last month and congressional leaders demanded plans from them by Tuesday to show that they will survive if they get federal funds.

The three CEOs are scheduled to appear before congressional committees Thursday and Friday. Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. have said they are perilously low on cash and need government loans to survive the recession and the worst auto sales environment in 25 years.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., spoke at Tuesday's event strongly in favor of an auto industry bailout, saying one of every 10 jobs in the United States is supported by the auto industry and Chrysler is responsible for much of the cargo that flows through the port of Baltimore.

The Baltimore Democrat was also critical of the $700 billion bailout package for the financial industry, saying he was appalled to see banks hoard the aid provided to them when it was intended to ease the credit crunch that has hurt automakers.

Restrictions need to be attached to aid that tell banks "look, this money is for the purpose of freeing up credit so that people can buy cars," the Baltimore Democrat said.

However, the financial and auto industries must both be held to the same strict standards, Cummings said.

"Don't have one standard for white collar and a different standard for blue collar, there is something wrong with that picture," Cummings said.

Press said decisions made this week are crucial to determining the future of the industry, the Chrysler executive said, adding those decisions will "define our country, economy and way of life."

Press said Tuesday that the economic costs of a failure of the auto industry would be much greater than the cost of the bridge loan Chrysler is seeking from the federal government.

Press appeared at a town hall meeting in Baltimore as part of a tour to gather ideas before heading to Washington. He said his campaign was about preserving America's manufacturing base, of which the auto industry is the key segment.

The Chrysler president said it has only been a year since the company was taken private and turnaround plans have been hampered by the onslaught of spiking fuel prices and the credit crunch. A bridge loan is needed to give the company time to get past those hurdles and allow its plan to work.

Bankruptcy is not an option because it would destroy consumer confidence in the company and be catastrophic for suppliers, he said.

"It's not even in the realm of possibility," Press said, adding that the cost of failure of the auto industry are much greater than the cost of a bridge loan.

"If the U.S. auto industry does go down, think of the ramifications for the U.S. economy," Press said.

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