General Motors' latest restructuring plan, submitted to the US government last night, dooms about 46,000 jobs (20,000 in the US), five additional factories, the Saab, Hummer and Saturn brands, over 2,100 US dealers and could require up to another US$16.6bn in federal loans plus "funding support" from Canada, Germany, the UK, Sweden and Thailand.

The new plan lowers the break-even point for earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for GM North America to 11.5-12m US market units a year from the 12.5-13m range of the initial plan submitted to Congress on 2 December 2008. GM lowered its 2009 forecast to 10.5m units after sales tanked in December and January.

GM said it would now focus in the US on the core Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands, relegating Pontiac to a "focused brand with fewer [models] within the Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer channel". GM would have 36 nameplates in 2012, down 25% from 2008 levels.

The decision to sell or axe Hummer would be made by 31 March with "final resolution no later than 2010".

Saab was up for sale and could file for "reorganisation" [aka bankruptcy] as early as this month, GM said.

"Given the urgency of stemming sizeable cash demands associated with Saab operations, GM is requesting Swedish government support prior to any sale [and] has developed a specific proposal that would have the effect of capping GM's financial support, with Saab's operations effectively becoming an independent business entity on 1 January, 2010.

"While GM hopes to reach agreement with the Swedish government, [Saab] could file for reorganisation as early as this month."

GM's chief executive Rick Wagoner said during a conference call that any Saab buyer could have access to GM technology.

In December, Sweden outlined a plan to save its auto industry by offering credit guarantees and emergency loans, but said it had no plans to buy stakes in Saab. But GM and Sweden have yet to agree on terms an aid package.

"They've been very open and the dialogue has been positive, but we haven't found the solution yet," GM chief operating officer Fritz Henderson said of the Swedish government.

Sweden on Wednesday continued to rule out taking stakes in any of the country's troubled automakers, but industry minister Maud Olofsson said on public service television discussions with Saab were continuing.

"The Swedish state and taxpayers in Sweden will not own car factories," she said. "Sometimes you get the feeling that this (GM) is a small, small company, but it is the world's biggest automaker, so we have a right to make demands."

"We are continuing the discussion with Saab," Olofsson told the broadcaster. "We have a very strong vehicles cluster and we will make something of it."

GM said Saturn would operate to the end of the current planned life cycle of its products and, if not spun off or sold, possibly to a dealer consortium, would be axed.

The US dealer roster would be culled from 6,246 in 2008 to 4,700 by 2012 and 4,100 by 2014, mostly in metro and suburban territories where "dealership overcapacity is most prevalent".

GM had already culled 12 US manufacturing plants between 2000 and 2008 and now has 14 more in its sights by 2012, five more than in its 2 December plan.

It recently axed 10,000 white collar workers and offered all 62,000 blue collar staff voluntary buyouts. It has negotiated new wage and benefit deals with the United Auto Workers union but still plans to axe 20,000 more jobs in the US and 26,000 worldwide.

It aims to cut its total US workforce to 72,000 by 2012 from 92,000 in 2008.

GM said it was talking with the Canadian and Ontario governments over aid for its operations there and on labour costs with the Canadian Auto Workers union.

In Europe, "a relatively costly restructuring environment", it needed to make $1.2bn in savings, including "several possible closures or spinoffs of manufacturing facilities in high cost locations" and would restructure its sales organisation to become more brand-focused and make better use of advertising.

GM said it was reconsidering its rate of expansion in  Asia-Pacific as some planned expansion and new models were no longer feasible and would not occur without local financial support.

Having already received $13.4bn in loans from the US government, GM said it would need the full $18bn requested last December plus a further $4.5bn.

"If the US industry deteriorates further... with industry volume of 9.5m units in 2009 and 11.5m in 2010, GM would require further federal funding, estimated at an additional $7.5bn, which could bring total government support up to $30bn by 2011," the submission said, adding that repayments should begin in 2012.

GM also said it might need additional support in 2013 and 2014 if it had to make contributions to its US pension funds.

The company also estimated it would need $6bn in support from Canada, Germany, the UK, Sweden and Thailand by 2010.

GM insisted the bankruptcy alternative would be a "highly risky, extremely costly and time-consuming process" and said it was not in the best interests of the company or its stakeholders.

"The overriding risks are the significant impact a bankruptcy would have on the company's revenue stream and the resulting huge debtor-in-possession funding support that would be required from the government, as such funding is not available from traditional sources in today's market conditions.

"Accordingly, accomplishing GM's restructuring out of court remains by far the best approach for all constituents."