A Government bail-out for the motor industry's finance arm is being considered by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.
Although the car companies themselves do not need help, he said, he appeared to agree that providing people with the credit to buy new vehicles might help revive the sector.
He said after a tour of a Ford engine plant in Bridgend, south Wales: "One of the ideas put to us is to find some way of putting fresh liquidity to the finance houses, the finance arms."
Impressed by the advances he had seen in research and development, he said he had seen why the motor industry "is going to be a permanent part of our manufacturing base".
Nevertheless, he added: "I don't think the auto industry in the UK needs a bailout. It's not weak, but it's going through a very tough period indeed. That's why the Government has got to respond to the request to look at any options."
He said that the Government is considering how best to help car makers "and what was the best use of the resources we want to put into this industry".
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