Just how much cash does a global automaker need to stay competitive? It's the main question in a tug-of-war between General Motors and four hedge funds that want $8 billion returned to shareholders.

With the industry's landscape changing daily there's a strong case for preserving cash to battle super-rich, high-tech companies delving into the auto space. Google's autonomous car, competition for in-vehicle connectivity and now talk of an Apple car are just a few salvos that present threats, and maybe opportunities.

Regardless of how seriously you take Apple, Tesla or Google as viable long-term manufacturers, the question of whether to hoard cash can't be ignored, said David Cole, co-founder of the AutoHarvest Foundation, a non-profit that helps companies pursue manufacturing innovations.

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If GM Pays Out To Investors Will It Have Enough Cash To Battle Google And Apple?

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