Marchionne’s Mea Culpa

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne apologizes today after using a derogatory term to describe the interest rates the auto maker is paying on emergency government loans that rescued his company from bankruptcy in 2009. He called them “shyster rates.”

“Yesterday, in responding to a question about Chrysler's government loans, I used a term in reference to the interest rate being charged on our government loans that has raised concern,” Marchionne says in a statement. “I regret the remark which I consider inappropriate.”

News reports citing his remark drew criticism from readers who suggested Chrysler is ungrateful. The remark “is an insult to the taxpayers,” says one Yahoo News reader. “May Chrysler never make a profit.”

Adds Marchionne: “I have repeated on numerous occasions, on behalf of all the people at Chrysler, our gratitude to the U.S. and Canadian governments for the financial assistance that was critical to the recovery of our Group.”

For the Record

As happened when Roger Maris hit his record-breaking homer in 1961, put an asterisk beside the Corvette General Motors gave former Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga last June.

Galarraga, since traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, narrowly missed throwing a perfect game because of an umpiring mistake. But the pitcher never slammed the ump.

For his effort, and good sportsmanship, GM gave him a Chevrolet Corvette. Straight off the showroom floor – almost.

During a break in the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention, baseball buff and GM North America President Mark Reuss tells journalists the auto maker took a Corvette from its headquarters display and delivered it to nearby Comerica Park. For photo purposes.

Galarraga, no dummy, later opted for a ZR1, Reuss reveals.

If the Shirt Fits…

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NADA Convention & Exposition

GM North America President Mark Reuss admits the auto maker’s recent decision to spurn a U.S. Department of Energy loan offer will be an image-booster.

GM decided interest accompanying the available $14.4 million loan would have been burdensome. The DOE was offering the money to assist with the development of green vehicles.

The side-benefit? “It will prevent our competitors from making T-shirts that say things,” Reuss says.

The auto maker’s acceptance of U.S. Treasury Dept. loans in 2009 inspired T-shirts that read: “I just bailed out GM and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”