Ford Germany Says No to Handouts, Yes to Loans | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 21.11.2008
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Ford Germany Says No to Handouts, Yes to Loans

The CEO of Ford Germany has called on the European Union to make 40 billion euros ($50 billion) in loans available to the continent's auto sector, emphasizing that the move would in no way resemble a government bailout.

Row of cars at the Ford factory in Cologne, Germany

Ford Germany says it doesn't want any freebies

"We do not need any money from Ms. Merkel," CEO Bernhard Mattes told the Germany daily Bild on Friday, Nov. 21. "Ford has never and will never accept government help."

Instead, Mattes has asked the EU for 40 billion euros in loans "in order to allow all European carmakers the possibility to meet EU requirements on fuel efficiency and emissions more quickly."

"This is money that has interest on it and that has to be paid back, so it's not a gift," he continued. "It is about modern technology and competitiveness on the world market."

While The Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) in the US asked lawmakers in Washington to come to their rescue earlier this week, the head of Ford Germany is putting a brave face on in this time of crisis for the automobile industry, underlining his company's readiness to combat plunging car sales in Europe.

Angela Merkel looks at a Ford Fiesta at the company location in Cologne

Ford puts on a brave face while Merkel mulls Opel's plea

Mattes: Ford has a plan

When asked why Ford is currently fairing better than GM and its subsidiary Opel, Mattes told Bild, "The Ford group has a global plan and we also have the financial means to implement it, to restructure it and to align it with our capacities with regard to plants and employee numbers."

On Monday, the European Investment Bank, the EU's financing institution, said it would propose finance ministers increase lending by 20 to 30 percent, allotting a portion of these loans for the ailing transport industry.

Meanwhile, Opel, which employs 26,000 people in Germany, is waiting on a decision from German Chancellor Angela Merkel concerning its request that Berlin provide loan guarantees of over one billion euros as a safeguard should GM go bankrupt.

Despite his unwillingness to accept a government bailout, Mattes has conceded that the next year will hold great uncertainty for the auto industry. He also admits that Ford will not reach this year's goal of selling 18 million cars, a loss he refers to as "a serious step back."

Recent data has shown that new car sales in Europe, where Ford is third in terms of market share, have plunged by 14.5 percent as the euro zone fell into recession. In Germany, an estimated one in seven jobs are either directly or indirectly dependent on the auto industry.

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