The $17.4 billion bridge loan package signed into action by President Bush late in December has begun disbursement, with General Motors receiving $4 billion earlier this month and now the second instalment of $5.4 billion as well. This additional funding comes at a crucial time for the General, whose COO Fritz Henderson warning earlier this week that the company would run out of cash by March without the second instalment.

GM has now received $9.4 billion in funding and expects to get a final $4 billion payment on February 17 when it faces a deadline to submit a restructuring plan to Congress. GM now has to show the government that it can pay back the loans, eventually, and that it can remain viable.

Some of the conditions GM is facing is severe concessions from bondholders and the UAW, reports Automotive News. The company has also revealed that it plans to focus most of its resources in North America on four key brands, namely the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC lines.

Last week, the company also cut its forecast for 2009 U.S. auto sales, saying it expected sales to drop to their lowest level in 27 years at 10.5 million vehicles. Meanwhile, this week, GM revealed that it had experienced an 11% drop in sales over 2008 and that it was now official second to Toyota in terms of vehicle output.

GM has since expressed gratitude for the funding and recognized the importance of the decision for not just its, but the industry's future. "We appreciate the administration extending a financial bridge to GM at this critical time for the U.S. auto industry," said spokesman Greg Martin.