[Keep in mind I've been thinking about this for approximately 7 seconds.]
If we're going to be pumping billions of dollars worth of taxpayer money into the US auto industry anyway, why not use the money to completely reconfigure it to be a world leader in producing various clean (or almost clean) cars? Some parts of a comprehensive plan:
(1) a new research institute, combining universities and private R&D companies, to develop new models that run on a variety of fuel sources (solar cells, better hybrids, full electric cars);
(2) shifting the burden of retiree pensions & health care from the companies to the government--if that's what we're paying for, let's pay for it directly and not through an extra middleman;
(3) retraining of current Big Three employees so they can work on these new cars;
(4) restructuring the car companies: (a) spin off the profitable cars & trucks into a new business that can support itself; (b) retool the remaining bum parts of the companies to make use of the new technology coming out of the research institute;
(5) heavily subsidizing the resulting cleaner cars for purchase by US consumers;
(6) after a few years of this, determining which of the prototypes are working and wean them off the subsidies as they get cheaper.
Leave aside the problems of political will for the moment: your thoughts?
(Inspired by this over at Volokh.)