Plans for a President Bush-directed bailout of GM and Chrysler are morphing into something more significant, according to reports from Wall Street and Washington.

Rather than tide the two companies over until President Obama’s government arrives and has to run through the whole process again, Bush is said to be considering a $40bn fund rather than a $15bn prop.

Still, there’s one thing about the rescue package that is already set in stone. Hardly a dollar will find its way out of the US.

GM’s brands not only need access to credit for day-to-day operations, but they have also been starved of cash for new product development.

Government, unions and management at Opel in Germany are working up plans to allow Opel to stand on its own two feet as far as possible.