WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama says the current model for the U.S. auto industry is unsustainable and the Big Three manufacturers will have to change their ways.
Answering questions at an online town hall, Obama said the auto industry must be preserved, not only symbolically but for the satellite industries such as suppliers. However, he said his job is to protect U.S. taxpayers and he wouldn't spend federal dollars on "a model that doesn't work."
Obama said sales of new vehicles had been around 14 million, a number that has dropped to 9 million during the economic downturn. In part, that was due to Americans struggling to get auto loans and fears of big-ticket purchases as jobs disappear.
The president said even as the economy bounces back, Detroit can't focus on building more SUVs and counting on low gas prices.