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Ford asks German government for help

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10:45 CET+01:00
The US automaker Ford has asked the German government for aid, but Berlin is divided on the question of how to help the country's key industry, the Süddeutsche Zeiting reported on Wednesday.

After General Motor's German subsidiary Opel, a second US 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 paper.

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.

Rupert Stadler, the boss of high-end line Audi made by the Volkswagen group, said he favoured a "junkyard bonus" to encourage households to get rid of older cars, in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Wednesday.

Stadler also said he was concerned that competition could be distorted if US 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.

US President-elect Barack Obama has already indicated that he wants to support GM, Ford and other US 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).

"Different things have been evoked," including such a bonus, Social Democrat Thomas Oppermann told German television on Wednesday.

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.

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