GM boss Rick Wagoner has arrived in Washington at the wheel of a prototype Chevrolet Volt for crisis talks with the US Senate.
The move comes after bosses of Detroit's Big Three manufacturers were criticised for flying by private jet to previous meetings where they asked for billion-dollar government bailouts to keep the US car industry alive.
Wagoner drove a Volt mule fitted with body panels from a Chevrolet Cruze (which shares GM’s basic Delta platform architecture) for the 525 mile trip from Detroit to Capitol Hill.
The Volt is a groundbreaking car for GM. It uses a range-extender hybrid system to ensure frugality and low emissions.
In an effort to take advantage of the media circus surrounding the Washington meetings, GM will also bring the concept version of the Volt to Washington.
As we reported yesterday, the UK government has given GM its backing to build European versions of the Volt at the Ellesmere Port factory in Britain. Production is expected to start in 2011.
Wagoner and his counterparts from Chrysler and Ford face an uphill battle to get a $34 billion loan package approved by a very sceptical Senate.
"It's fair to say that last month's hearings were difficult for us, but we leaned a lot," Wagoner told reporters. “We're here because saving General Motors, and all this company represents, is a job worth doing."
However, a poll conducted by CNN revealed that many Americans don’t agree with the GM bosses’ sentiments. A majority 61 percent of 1100 polled were opposed to the car-makers getting a bailout. Only 36 percent supported them.
It’s a stunning reversal of public opinion. Similar poll results in November were much more sympathetic towards the Big Three's proposals.