Will Chrysler Corp. submit a new plan to the federal government, seeking financial assistance, or not?
That question was still unanswered last night as seven banks in Japan effectively applied new pressure on both the Carter administration and Chrysler to find an answer quickly, to the company's financial woes or create more money for the nation's tenth-largest industrial firm.
In Washington and Detroit, there were conflicting statements from the main participants in continuing negotiations between the troubled auto manufactuuer and the Treasury Department.
As has been the case for several weeks, a Chrysler spokesman emphasized yesterday that his firm has no plans to submit a new plan to the administration -- one that would replace a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee request filed in September. That proposal was rejected as too high by Treasury Secretary G. Miller.
"We consider the proposal submitted Sept. 15 to be the plan, while talks since then have simply involved providing supporting information and other data, the Chrysler official said.
But Deputy Treasury Secetary Robert Carswell said last night "we are sitting here waiting . . . I assume there will be a new plan." In an interview, Carswell emphasized that the administration "has asked for a new plan" and he speculated that "Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca may use the occasion of scheduled testimony to a House subcommittee on Thursay as the platform to unveil new proposals.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Japanese banks said they have halted issuing letters of credit for the Chrysler, in connection with imports of Mitsubishi autos to this country.
The decision means that Chrysler will have to pay in cash for importing the Mitsubishi cars or halt the import program altogether. The Mitsubishi vehicles, sold as Plymouth Arrows and Dodge Colts in the U.S, are among the best-selling Chrysler cars and also are among the most fuel-efficient cars on the market.
Chrysler officials sought immediately to assure dealers and consumers that the import program would continue. The company said talks have been opened on the current credit arrangements and that it is "confident" an agreement will be reached on "mutually satisfactory" terms to insure uninterrupted Mitsubishi shipments.
Earlier this year, the Japanese banks agreed to underwrite Chrysler's imports with some $400 million in letters of credit. But yesterday, a spokesman for Industrial Bank of Japan Ltd., one of the seven, said the financing will be halted starting with October shipments because of Chrysler's deteriorating financial condition.
Dow Jones News Service quoted sources in Tokyo yesterday as stating the Japenese banks made up their mind to cut off Chrysler credit because of the absence of "concrete" measures by Chrysler's U.S. banks to aid the company. Mitsubishi has been exporting some 12,000 trucks and cars a month to the United States.