Daimler and BMW caution against aid for carmakers

LONDON (Reuters) - German carmakers Daimler AG DAIGn.DEDAI.N and BMW BMWG.DE on Wednesday warned against state bailouts in the car industry, arguing that governments should not interfere in necessary structural changes during the economic downturn.

The German government is currently under pressure to rescue GM's GM.N German automaker Opel as the industry faces a slump in demand.

“I have an understanding when it is about banks because they are central elements of an economy,” BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer told the Financial Times. “But for the rest, where do you start and ... stop?”

“If governments would not get involved, we would have a much stronger selection process. Because then only companies with high liquidity, net financial assets and no, or almost no, cash-burn would survive.”

Governments around the world have moved to support their automotive industries, which have suffered heavily from the economic fallout of the credit crunch.

But that state help has sparked concerns about a surge in protectionism, which many fear could leave long-lasting damage.

“Every industry needs structural development and this is not something that should be influenced in the long term by governments,” Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Daimler, told the newspaper.

Reporting by Matt Falloon; Editing by Gary Hill