G.M. withdraws application for Energy Department Loan

General Motors said on Thursday that it was withdrawing its application to borrow $14.4 billion from a pool of federal money intended to help automakers build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

G.M., whose request had been pending with the Energy Department for 15 months, said the decision was based on improved cash reserves and a desire to avoid more debt. The company was profitable in 2010 and had $33.5 billion in cash and marketable securities as of Sept. 30 — much of it the result of federal loans related to its 2009 bankruptcy filing — up from $22.8 billion a year ago.

This decision is based on our confidence in G.M.’s overall progress and strong, global business performance,” Christopher P. Liddell, G.M.’s chief financial officer, said in a statement. “Withdrawing our D.O.E. loan application is consistent with our goal to carry minimal debt on our balance sheet…”

Congress created the $25 billion fund in 2008, and the Energy Department has lent about $8.5 billion of it so far. The Ford Motor Company received $5.9 billion — about half the amount it requested — with smaller amounts going to Nissan, Tesla and Fisker…

G.M. said that, even without the retooling loans, it had invested $3.4 billion in its American plants since emerging from bankruptcy, creating or retaining 11,000 jobs. Much of the upgrade was related to the manufacture of new high-mileage cars like the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt as well as batteries…

Separately Thursday, G.M. said it was accelerating the introduction of the Volt, a plug-in hybrid, in response to customer demand. Dealers in all 50 states will be able to take orders in the second quarter and start receiving the cars in the second half of the year. Previously, G.M. had said the Volt would not be available nationwide until mid-2012.

They’re also talking about doubling production of the Volt. Reception from retail customers has been better than anything they might have hoped for – at least what automotive journalists stuck into the carbon cycle thought they would get. 🙂