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Detroit Bankruptcy Unlikely to Slow Big Three

Detroit is the birthplace of the American auto industry. But the Motor City’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing late last week is not expected to have much impact on Chrysler, Ford or General Motors.

The three automakers have rebounded from the recession even as Detroit foundered under an $18 billion debt load. GM and Chrysler, which emerged stronger from their own bankruptcies in 2009, express confidence that the city also will benefit from shedding many of its liabilities and reorganizing operations.

The carmakers known as the Detroit Three and their suppliers have a much smaller presence in the city than they did decades ago. GM, the only one of the three with Detroit headquarters, also builds the Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid in a factory there. The company says it doesn’t expect the reorganization to have any impact to its daily operations or business outlook.

Chrysler pledges to play “a positive role” in the city’s revitalization. The company makes Jeeps, engines and the Dodge Viper performance coupe at three Detroit factories and opened a small sales office downtown last year.

The Detroit auto show won’t be hurt by the bankruptcy, according to its organizer, the Detroit Auto Dealers Assn. DADA notes that the event’s downtown venue, Cobo Center, is operated by a regional authority and is not dependent on city funding.