Obama hopes for 'more competitive' GM

US car giant General Motors filed for bankruptcy today in a move that will allow it to restructure as a "stronger and more competitive" company, President Barack Obama said.

The government is to pump billions of dollars into the firm as it takes a majority stake in a "new GM" that will be streamlined as a result of its reorganisation.

Fritz Henderson, chief executive and president of GM, said it was a "defining moment" in the history of the century-old car maker, adding "today is not the end of General Motors, but the start of a new and better chapter".

President Obama said despite taking a 60 per cent share in the company, the restructured firm would not be run from Washington.

"Our goal is to get GM back on its feet, take a hands off approach, and get out quickly," he added.