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Can GM, Ford and Chrysler survive independently?
A few years ago both Ford and GM faced questions about whether filing for bankruptcy protection was a real possibility, but such speculation is now revving up again. It comes just months after the auto makers signed new union contracts that are expected to bring Detroit's labor costs in line with those of their Japanese rivals. But the sharp rise in gas prices this year has hit the Big Three hardest because of their heavy reliance on trucks for most of their sales and profits.
"Their wiggle room right now is almost nonexistent," said Tad Howard, president of financial consulting firm Nassau Financial LLC in Potomac, Md. "I think it's a hopeless situation short of two things -- a government bailout or additional cooperation from the [United Auto Workers union]. So in some ways, bankruptcy may be an attractive alternative.