Barack Obama has pledged to support the US car industry as plans to offer $15 billion (£10bn) of aid to GM, Ford and Chrysler are drawn up in Washington.
But Obama issued a warning to the bosses of Detroit’s Big Three, saying they should be prepared to step down if they failed to restructure their businesses.
“I have said repeatedly that to allow the auto industry in the United States to collapse at a time when we are seeing record joblessness is unacceptable,” said Obama.
“If the management team that is in place does not understand the urgency of the situation and is not willing to make the tough choices and adapt to these new circumstances, then they should go.
“I have also said that it makes no sense for us to shovel more money into the problem if you have not seen an auto industry committed to restructuring.”
The $15 billion financial lifeline – less than half the money the US car makers requested – is being seen as a temporary measure to take GM, Ford and Chrysler through to 20 January, when Obama takes office.