ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - President Barack Obama could announce his new auto task force later on Monday, his spokesman said.

I think the unveiling will come later today, Robert Gibbs told reporters on board Air Force One when asked when the president would formally announce his new strategy.

He said the announcement would likely be in a written statement.

Obama has decided to launch a government task force for restructuring the struggling U.S. auto industry instead of naming a car czar with sweeping powers.

He is appointing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as his designee for overseeing auto bailout loans and as co-head of the new high-level panel together with White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, a senior administration official said on Sunday.

Asked on Monday why Obama had rejected the idea of a car czar, Gibbs said: The model that's been set up with Secretary Geithner and Dr. Summers is one that will help coordinate throughout the federal government.

He declined to answer questions about whether Obama had considered any candidates for car czar before deciding on a broad team approach to tackle the auto crisis.

U.S. car giants General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC are required to submit new turnaround plans by Tuesday showing how they can be made viable after receiving $13.4 billion in emergency aid in the final weeks of the Bush administration.

We are anxious to see the plans that will be offered by the auto companies, Gibbs said.

It is extremely important to have a strong and viable auto industry. Obviously, that is likely to require some restructuring to ensure its viability, and we think some of that will be in those plans, he said.

Gibbs described Ron Bloom, a restructuring expert who has advised labor unions and will serve as a senior adviser on the auto crisis, as having vast credibility on corporate restructuring and said Bloom would provide a big boost to the task force.

(Writing by Patricia Zengerle, editing by Eric Beech)