WASHINGTON - General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. have formed an organization to represent them on trade and possibly other international issues.
The organization, called the Automotive Trade Policy Council, quietly has begun operations in the office building that houses GM's Washington staff.
Council president is Steven Collins. The vice president is Charles Uthus. Both had handled trade issues for the former Big 3's now-defunct American Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Creation of the council is the latest in a long chain of events set off by last year's merger of Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG.
Big 3 executives first decided to abolish their Americans-only business association, AAMA, and then created a new group with six overseas-based automakers that have U.S. operations.
The new Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, formally launched Jan. 12, plans to focus on safety and environmental issues and other public policy subjects on which members agree.
Executives of the former Big 3 said from the outset they would deal separately with trade since it is a subject likely to divide the alliance. But Ford Vice Chairman Peter Pestillo said at the alliance launching there may be trade policies on which members can agree.
Other executives have said they do not rule out the possibility that some overseas-based companies 'with a common agenda' could become members of the group.
Collins was traveling in Asia last week. Uthus confirmed the council is operational but declined further comment.