After an historic bankruptcy filing Monday, General Motors took a big step forward Tuesday, announcing a tentative deal to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese manufacturer. GM has also lined up buyers for its Saturn and Saab brands. But prospects of a more profitable GM emerging from bankruptcy have been lost on thousands of workers and dealers who are seeing their livelihoods wiped out. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
President Obama warned that saving the US auto industry would be painful.
But it's especially painful in the town of Ypsilanti (in the midwestern state of) Michigan, where the decision to close GM's Willow Run plant was announced Monday.
Along Main Street, antique dealer Carol McEachram says merchants are nervous. It bothers me, it worries me, I'm hoping that, trying to think positive that everything is going to work out for everybody," McEachram said.
"I almost got sick to my stomach," Brenda Stumbo said. Stumbo says the Willow Run plant is the town's largest taxpayer and employs more than 1300 people. "I don't know who made the decision but it wasn't the right one. It wasn't right for our workers, it wasn't right for our community, and it's not right for our state," she said.
This car dealership in New Jersey is also feeling the impact.
Bob Maquire and his wife Marcy opened their first GM dealership in Bordentown in 1976.
The Maguires say car sales have dropped more than 50 percent since last year. "First time in the history of this company I had layoffs," Bob said. "When you see a lady in the office put her head down on her arm and cry, you realize the impact of your decision to lay her off."
"Each one has a family, they have a mortgage, they want to put their children through school," Marcy adds. "If we are not able to provide them with jobs, that's very, very hurtful."
But some dealers are taking a more positive approach.
In New York, John Bruno at Potamkin Cadillac says there's never been a better time to buy.
"It's a great opportunity for a customer to buy a General Motors product right now," he said. "And it's a product that's going to be around. It's not going anywhere."
Despite the worst climate for auto sales in more than 27 years, the Maguires agree the hard part is over. "Today's a sad day that they did file for bankruptcy, but the uncertainty is done. Now I think we can start fresh," Marcy said.
Industry experts say car sales for the month of May are encouraging. Both Ford and GM say car sales in May showed a marked improvement from the previous month.