Two of big three auto makers in big trouble this week

By Molly Reuter - bio | email

WASHINGTON - (AP) Two of the big three auto makers are in big trouble this week.  The Justice Department is reportedly preparing bankruptcy filing for Chrysler, and General Motors is shutting down 13 assembly plants for more than two months this summer.  The temporary plant closures are expected to have a ripple effect on supplier layoffs across the country.

The government is also giving General Motors another $2 billion in loans.  The struggling auto giant is working to restructure and avoid bankruptcy court.  The new loan pushes GM's total amount of government aid to $15.4 billion.

Chrysler is preparing for chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The New York Times reports pensions and retiree heath benefits for United Auto Worker union members would be protected.  Chrysler would continue to pursue a deal with Italian automaker Fiat.

Ford's CEO, however, says they are off to a very good start this year and isn't expecting to need government bailout money.  The automaker reports it lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter, but is making progress in cutting costs.

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