The latest messages and the timing of the same seem to be something created from the theatre of the absurd. With good intentions General Motors announced this week that it has banned political candidates from its premises.
We're not kidding. The Detroit Free Press reported the following: "GM, saved by federal loans a few years ago, desperately wants to avoid becoming the centerpiece of campaign rhetoric. So it has banned candidates from its plants at least until after Election Day, Nov. 6, despite the fact that the U.S. Treasury remains its largest shareholder."
Now, without getting into political debate, let's consider the logic. If your next door neighbor borrowed a large chunk of money from you (a really large chunk--) would you be offended if he also told your kids not to ring the doorbell on Halloween because he didn't want to be bothered?
Isn't it just a bit implausible to dictate the terms of engagement if you're in the hole for billions?
But sure enough, GM says they want to keep a low profile. "We would like to put all of our energy behind selling our cars and trucks," said Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president for global public policy. "It's an understatement to say we can't wait for November to get here."
GM and experts say the company has been intentionally less visible in lobbying on some federal issues and is, in effect, taking cover until the election is over.
For the record, the Treasury Department, which provided $49.5 billion to bail out GM, still owns 32% of the new GM's common stock, despite getting repaid more than $23 billion so far.
And the day after GM announced its efforts at political neutrality, Automotive News, a trade publication, announced that General Motors is halting, for a month, the manufacture of its well-known but seldom-sold Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car.
This is the second interruption in production for the Volt, which can go 38 miles on battery power before needing a recharge from its gasoline engine or via a plug-in.
Automotive News, citing unnamed sources, reports the Detroit-Hamtramck plant will suspend production from Sept. 17 until Oct. 15. Leaders of the UAW told the plant's 1,500 union workers about the scheduled downtime last week, the source said.
According to USA TODAY, a GM spokesman declined to comment. "We don't comment on production schedules," the spokesman told the News. "We continue to match supply and demand."