The singers have changed but the song is the same: Ford Motor Company is deep in the doo-doo and expects nothing to improve this year or next.

The duet on the microphone two years ago was Bill Ford and his chief financial officer Don Leclair.

Today it was Alan Mulally, Ford's hired hand as chief executive, and Lewis Booth who is now running the numbers. Booth did too good a job of making profit while in charge of Ford of Europe and as soon as Don Leclair stepped out of the limelight, Brit Booth was drafted in to cast his magic over the seriously sick US operation.

It's never easy to tell shareholders that you have been losing a billion dollars for every month of trading but that was the essence of the quarterly report for the period to the end of September.

And let's remember that it was not until October that the consumers left the car showrooms for good, so that was a comparatively easy spell.

All that Mulally could manage by way of being cheerful was to tell the online audience of  analysts that he was really chuffed about the way chats had been going with Government about some soft loans to keep the show on the road until the economy bounced. The Ford corporate view is that bounce doesn't happen unto 2010.

The US auto industry is regarded increasingly as a strategic asset, Mulally intoned.  Indeed he is "encouraged by our dialogue with governments throughout the world."

Specifically in the US, says Mulally, the Government reckons that "we have a very important industry because by building smaller cars and changing (drive) technologies we can create energy independence and security." And that has to be worth paying for.

One little issue that is irksome is that the soft loans required are of the extremely soft variety - bordering on flaky. No use trying to secure those loans on Ford's assets. They don't have any. The majority of assets were hocked last year in a throw of the dice that was supposed get Ford out of its position of uncompetiveness.

It is still uncompetitive but now has recession to deal with simultaneously.

Booth strikes up in chorus: ACEA, the European car-makers official body, is asking the European Commission to dob up 40bn Euros for help with the technology research needed in Europe for the CO2-saving power trains.

Timing is critical fellers: there is a couple of months till Obama gets briefed up and by then there will be 101 other consumer-facing industries pleading a special case for Government funding. Taxpayers have a limit to their tolerance for companies that have been building the wrong things in the wrong quantities for many, many years.

If you can't get this subsidy through quickly, reckon on not getting it through at all.

See also: US: Ford reduces Q3 loss to $129m