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Seeking $34 billion from Congress, automakers promise electric cars

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Ted Andkilde / PictureDesk / NEWSCOM / FILE

(Read caption) Ford's Think electric car, first produced in 2002.

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Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, seeking access to $34 billion in taxpayer-financed loans, have presented to Congress plans to invest in clean technologies and to accelerate the development of fuel efficient vehicles.

Ford asked for $9 billion, which it describes in a press release as "potential access to a temporary bridge loan." But it does not expect to have to tap into the credit line.  The company says that it expects to make it through next year without federal assistance, and that it projects that its pretax earnings will break even or be profitable in 2011. But it says that it would like to have the cash handy, in case the economy worsens unexpectedly or one of its major competitors goes bankrupt, disrupting Ford's suppliers, dealers, and creditors.

Ford is in better shape than the two other major US automakers. General Motors, which owes creditors $45 billion, told the a Senate panel that, unless it receives $18 billion in loans over the next year, it will be forced into bankruptcy. Chrysler says that it owes creditors more than $26 billion, and asked for $7 billion in loans.

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