US automakers are pleading for government cash after admitting the industry will be in meltdown without a bailout.
Executives from the big three car manufacturers Ford, General Motors and Chrysler met with the senate banking committee yesterday to ask for a handout.
Both unions and board members have been putting pressure on politicians to amend the banking bailout bill to include the auto industry but yesterday was the first time the companies spelled out how much they would need to avert disaster.
Ford is asking for $8 billion, General Motors (GM) is seeking between $10 and $12 billion and Chrysler requested $7 billion.
Rock Wagoner, head of GM, told the committee: "This is about much more than just Detroit.
"It's about saving the US economy from a catastrophic collapse."
GM has already warned it is going to run out of cash within a matter of weeks.
Democratic senators are supporting a $25 billion package to support the industry, which has suffered from falling demand in the economic slowdown.
However, they face strong opposition from the Republicans, who believe the government should simply speed up a $25 billion loan already promised to auto manufacturers to help them develop more fuel efficient vehicles.
Millions of US jobs rely on the car manufacturing industry, with Ford claiming the sector accounts for almost ten per cent of the country's GDP.
The industry has been in trouble for sometime, however, as competition from foreign rivals has hurt sales.