The global car industry is in crisis. BBC News looks at the key firms and how they are faring.See full details
of carmakers' sales and profits in 2008.
Ford is the only major US carmaker which has not have asked the government for money, despite reporting losses in each of the last three years.
Like its US rivals GM and Chrysler, Ford most successful business has been the sale of trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) at home.
While sales of SUVs peaked in the 1990s, the last few years have increased demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, and Toyota began selling more cars than Ford in its home market.
In July 2008 Ford said that it would bring six of its more fuel-efficient European models to the US, including the Fiesta and the Focus. One of its Michigan assembly plants, which previously produced trucks and SUVs, will start rolling out the Focus in 2010.
Ford started 2009 with a loss of $1.4bn in the first three months, but the result was better than analysts had forecast.
Despite the loss, Ford increased its market share in Europe to 9.4% - its highest level in nearly ten years.
General Motors lost its position as the world's best-selling car company to Toyota when its Japanese rival sold more cars than GM in 2008.
2008 GLOBAL CAR SALES
GM had been the biggest carmaker in terms of sales since it overtook Ford 77 years ago.
In its heyday, its luxury Cadillac brand with its distinctive tailfins and its Pontiac "muscle cars" set trends in the automotive industry.
However the Detroit giant, which was once the biggest company in the US, was one of the first carmakers to request government aid last year.
As US carmakers were hit by falling SUV sales, GM announced in 2008 that it was in talks to sell its gas-guzzling Hummer brand and it is also abandoning its Saab, Saturn and Pontiac brands, having previously eliminated Oldsmobile.
GM has so far been given more than $15bn of US government loans, and says it needs $16.6bn more.
Facing bankruptcy, the firm has said it plans to close up to 1,100 of its US dealerships, close 14 factories in the US and cut thousands of jobs.
It also plans to sell its European arm, which includes Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Germany.
The smallest of the US "Big Three" carmakers, Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
It has always been the weakest of the three, facing bankruptcy in the 1970s during the first oil crisis before being bailed out by the US government.
It has now formed an alliance with Fiat, with the Italian firm taking an initial 20% stake in the US carmaker.
It has said that it wants to close about a quarter of its 3,200 dealerships.
Since the beginning of the year Chrysler has received $4.5bn in loans from the US government, and the bankruptcy deal revealed that it would get a further $8bn.
Chrysler pioneered the minivan and acquired the Jeep brand, both of which have been hit by higher oil prices and reduced consumer demand.
Before being taken over by a private equity firm, it was owned by Germany's Daimler, the maker of Mercedes, who sold its stake at a huge loss.
The New Beetle boosted VW sales in the US
Despite falling sales at Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker says it has increased its share of the global market.
And, unlike other carmakers who have requested government financial assistance, VW says it is in a "sound financial position".
VW is one of the few carmakers still making a profit. In the first three months of this year it made a profit of 243m euros ($314.4m; £215.6m), although this was a 74% drop on the previous year.
In the 1990s and early 2000s VW invested heavily in its luxury Bentley brand, made in the UK. It has also grown its share of the US market with the introduction of its new Golf models and the New Beetle.
VW has been involved in a messy merger battle with luxury car brand Porsche, which currently has a stake of more than 50% in VW. The German state government also owns a substantial share of the company.
A merger with Porsche will bring together 10 brands under one roof. They include European brands like Skoda, SEAT, and Audi. VW also has an important presence globally in Asia and Latin America.
Fiat is known for its small and well-designed "green" cars, with its Fiats, Lancias and Alfa Romeos particularly popular in its home market.
The Italian company currently has an 8.2% share of the market in western Europe, but does not sell well outside its home market.
Fiat is planning to take an initial 20% stake in Chrysler, rising to 35% and has said it wants to take over GM Europe.
The Chrysler deal will make it the sixth largest carmaker in the world, giving it access to the North American market.
Fiat made a loss of 410m euros ($535m; £368m) in the first three months of 2009 - its first quarterly loss in four years - but boss Sergio Marchionne said he remained committed to the partnership with Chrysler.
The French-Japanese alliance is the world's fourth-largest carmaker.
Completed in 1999, the deal gave Renault a 44% stake in Nissan and access to the Asian and North American markets.
Almost two-thirds of Renault's sales are made in Europe.
Renault's most successful car to date is the Clio, which boosted its sales in the 1990s.
Renault's profit fell 78% last year to 599m euros ($769m; £541m), while Nissan reported a net loss of 233.7bn yen ($2.3bn; £1.59bn).
In the 1980s and 1990s Nissan opened several factories outside Japan including in the US, the UK, Mexico and South Africa, and is today known for offering a wide range of vehicles, but its strength is in smaller cars such as the Micra.
In 2006, Renault-Nissan had been in talks with General Motors about forming a global partnership but a deal was never reached.
Toyota launched its third generation hybrid Prius in 2009
The Japanese company is the world's largest carmaker, selling 8.97m vehicles last year, and for many years was also the most profitable. It also has the largest market capitalisation of any car company.
Toyota pioneered the system of 'lean production' that reduced costs and the time it took to build a car.
Its smaller and medium size cars, including the hybrid Prius, gained a strong position in the US market, where it built new car factories as its market share increased.
However, it too has been hit by the downturn in consumer spending.
Toyota said it sold 27% fewer vehicles in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year.
And earlier this month it recorded its worst annual loss of 436.94bn yen ($4.4bn; £2.9bn) and said it expected to make a bigger loss in the next year.
Like many rivals, Toyota has cut production, including at its UK plants.
HOW GLOBAL CARMAKERS PERFORMED IN 2008
||2008 sales (million units)
||2008 net profit/loss ($bn)
||Company value ($bn)
|* For year ending 31 March 2009
|** Chrysler was privately-owned and not obligated to release its finances