The humbled heads of the Big Three automakers pledged to mend their ways and place renewed focus on fuel-efficient vehicles, as they pleaded with Congress Thursday for billions in emergency aid.

General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner, the first of the three CEOs to testify in two days of hearings on Capitol Hill, said his company was creating a "blueprint for a new General Motors," as he asked Congress for $12 billion in loans and a $6 billion line of credit.

The CEOs admitted mistakes before the Senate Banking Committee but also told federal lawmakers the strains of the global financial crisis have hindered their efforts to reinvent themselves.

"GM has been an important part of American culture for 100 years and most of that time, as the worlds leading automaker," Wagoner said. "We're here today because we made mistakes, which we're learning from, because some forces beyond our control have pushed us to the brink -- and most importantly, because saving General Motors and all this company represents is a job worth doing."

The heads of the Big Three automakers arrived in Washington Thursday morning, hat in hand, to ask federal lawmakers for as much as $34 billion in emergency aid.

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