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Car Industry Clamours for State Handouts

Other European business sectors are likely to seek government aid similar to that offered this week to banks, according to EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. Carmakers would already like a slice of the cake.

Red traffic light at the Opel plant in Bochum, Germany

German carmakers are already suffering

Speaking on Deutschlandfunk public radio on Monday, Oct. 13, Verheugen said, "The demands have already begun from the car industry."

The German Industry and Enterprise Commissioner said, "It won't be easy for politicians to explain to the workers why hundreds of billions of euros are available for the banking system, but not when an entire industry is in trouble."

Germany is expected to inject 70 billion euros this week into troubled banks and Britain is offering almost as much to its banks.

German auto industry hit hard

The automobile industry is one of Europe's key export sectors. German premium-car manufacturers have been hit by the downturn in the United States, their principal export market.

Willi Diez of the Institute of the Automobile Economy, last week forecast that some less profitable car-manufacturing plants in Europe might have to close next year.

He forecast that new car sales in western Europe would drop to 12.9 million units -- 1.4 million less than this year.

Sigrid de Vries, spokeswoman for the European auto makers federation ACEA, said last week, "The financial crisis also affects carmakers because it is generally more difficult to finance running operations."

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