While GM boss Rick Wagoner was asking the US government for a bailout, the company placing full-page ads in the national papers, making a case for what it called:

‘A loan that will be repaid to the American taxpayer’.

And what Wagoner estimates will be $12bn.

Under the heading ‘There’s a belief that GM is not doing enough’, the company says it has ‘reduced structural costs in North America by $9bn since 2005.’

It also says it has spent $103bn over the last 15 years on ‘addressing legacy costs like pension and retiree healthcare’.

‘To continue its progress,’ GM says, ‘it will utilize federal money’ to ‘successfully launch key cars and crossovers and ‘completely reinvent the automotive industry through the introduction of the new Chevy Volt extended range electric vehicle.’

The question is whether a surprisingly hostile middle America will listen.