March 25, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR NEWS REPORTS: DESPITE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAXPAYER LOANS, GENERAL MOTORS PROVIDES THOUSANDS OF EMPLOYEES WITH FREE CAR AND GAS,
AT AN ESTIMATED $12 MILLION ANNUAL FUEL COST

NPR'S FRANK LANGFITT TALKS TO CURRENT AND FORMER GM EMPLOYEES WHO SAY THE PERK SHOULD GO

STORY AIRING TODAY ON MORNING EDITION; AVAILABLE AT www.npr.org

March 25, 2009; Washington, D.C. – Today on NPR News’ Morning Edition, auto industry correspondent Frank Langfitt reports on a longtime, if little-discussed, company perk at General Motors to provide managers’ cars and gas, and critisim inside and outside the company in light of GM's massive losses. The entire story is airing today on Morning Edition; a web article is available at: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102316176

Langfitt reports that GM currently provides gas and a company car to about 8,000 white-collar employees. The gas alone cost an estimated $12 million last year, according to a former GM economist. Under the program, which has been around for at least 50 years, managers get a new car every six months. Former employee Rob Kleinbaum tells NPR the perk sends the wrong message, and should be eliminated. When gas prices were at an all-time high last summer, Kleinbaum says GM employees: "Were missing the pain. I would be totally in favor of eliminating this benefit, more because it would drive everybody in the company to be much close to the marketplace.”

GM defends the program as a tool to track and improve vehicle quality – drivers are required to make routine reports – and tells NPR that, to end it would be “extremely disruptive.” Former GM employee Walter McManus questions the program’s validity. “I’m not aware, when I was in the market research or in product planning, of anyone at GM ever using the information for any sort of analysis or any product development decisions.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. Audio of the interview is available now at: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102316176

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio’s most listened-to program with nearly 14 million weekly listeners. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations