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Installing safeguards
Installing safeguards
What sort of conditions are likely to be put on the bailout money? Can we at least demand that the automakers produce electric cars or cars with gas mileage we specify? -Shaleen

The bailout plan contains provisions for government oversight. Whoever oversees the companies that borrow money will have powers similar to a bankruptcy judge with the ability to negotiate conditions on outside creditors, unions and other parties. That could spark some painful but necessary changes for long-term survival.

Regarding electric cars, new Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules have already been passed that call for big overall fuel economy increases for all manufacturers. GM, Chrysler and Ford are working on new hybrid and electric cars in part to comply with those future requirements, but also to change the public's impression that they are technologically lagging.

When we're talking about business survival, though, it's important to remember that hybrid and electric cars are unlikely to be very profitable, or profitable at all, for years to come.

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Last updated December 26 2008: 8:55 AM ET
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