Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (right, in the driver's seat next to Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas), who pushed for tough conditions on the $17.4 billion U.S. government bailout for General Motors and Chrysler, said at the Detroit auto show that he hoped Chrysler would find a merger partner to survive.
"Chrysler probably needs to merge with somebody, not necessarily disappear from the standpoint of existence," said Corker, who added the automaker owned by Cerberus Capital Management was not making the needed investment to remain competitive. He spoke to reporters as he toured the show before meeting with executives for GM, Chrysler and Ford.
Corker, whose home state includes the U.S. headquarters for Japan's Nissan, also said he felt GM's debt load was too heavy and it may not meet the restructuring targets set out under the $13.4 billion loan granted to the company by the Bush administration.
The Republican senator met with GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson and, during his visit to the GM stand at the show, sat in the Cadillac Converj, a luxury model of the all-electric Chevrolet Volt concept car.
Corker said he loved the Jeep he drove before he came to Congress, though he did not specify which model. Chrysler, which received $4 billion in emergency loans, owns the Jeep brand.