Ford Asks German Government for Help

Ford joins GM in asking Berlin for help in boosting new car sales

Ford has asked Berlin for aid but the government is divided on the question of how to help Germany's key but troubled industrial sector, a report said on Nov. 12. After General Motors' German subsidiary Opel, a second U.S. group implanted in Germany has thus turned to Chancellor Angela Merkel for aid. "We sent a letter on the same day as Opel," a Ford spokesman told the Sueddeutsche Zeiting newspaper.

Both auto makers have pressed the government for tax measures that would boost the sale of new cars, but neither has received a reponse for the time being, the report said.

The head of Audi said he favored a "junkyard bonus" to encourage households to get rid of older cars, in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Rudolf Stadler also said he was concerned that competition could be distorted if U.S. car makers got help from Washington. "If the United States supports its auto industry, the European Union would be well-advised to do the same," Stadler said.

President-elect Barack Obama has already indicated that he wants to support GM, Ford and other U.S. auto manufacturers.

In Germany, the idea of a junkyard bonus is also supported by some within the Social Democratic Party (SPD) that participates in a coalition government with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Last week, Berlin presented an economic support plan that included the suspension of a tax on new cars for up to two years. But owing to opposition from SPD lawmakers, who argued that the measure ran counter to the government's environmental protection objectives, the time span was reduced to six months.And Merkel is not ready to go beyond the measures announced last week, a CDU parliamentary group spokesman said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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