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Lobby government, Wagoner tells dealers

Rick Wagoner has urged car dealers to lobby government officials to help the industry develop alternative powertrains and to develop the necessary infrastructure.

General Motors’s youngest ever CEO, talking to the NADA convention in San Francisco on his 55th birthday, told dealers: “GM is making massive investment in technologies to make cars environmentally friendly. It’s an opportunity to change our business for generations to come.

“There are two areas where we have to work together with dealers.

First, the regulatory environment. We have to focus our efforts on reducing growth in oil usage and greenhouse emissions and we have to educate the regulators. Second, creating the infrastructure to make this technology work – that’s charging stations, ethanol pods and hydrogen infra-structure.

Wagoner claimed it was difficult to get governments to push the pace on infrastructure, even when the solutions were easy. On E85, which GM’s Saab brand uses in the UK, he said production was increasing rapidly but the government was doing “a lousy job of making it available to customers”.

Of the American market, he added: “Ethanol fuelling makes up less than 1% of the 170,000 gas stations in the USA.”

Wagoner also hinted that GM, which last year posted record losses of $39bn due to a $38bn charge in the third quarter related to deferred tax assets, was ready to turn the corner after a long period of restructure.

“We are in a vastly improved position to compete in the US and around the world,” he said. “I appeal for dealers and OEMs to continue to work hard at working together to shape our industry.”

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