NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Detroit's Big Three aren't the only automotive companies that want to see the government step in with some much-needed financial help.
Overseas automakers, most notably Toyota Motor, all endorse some form of federal aid to keep General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Chrysler LLC and possibly Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) out of bankruptcy.
This may seem surprising at first, especially considering that much of the opposition to the auto bailout was from senators from Southern states that are home to auto plants operated by Asian auto companies, such as Alabama and South Carolina. But the Asian automakers insist they never lobbied against such help for the Big Three.
The overseas automakers, who between them produce more than 3 million vehicles a year at U.S. plants, all worry their production would be hurt if one of the U.S. automakers went under. That's because a Big Three failure would likely lead to widespread bankruptcies in the auto parts supplier industry.
A collapse of one of the Big Three would also probably cause an even more severe hit to the U.S. economy. That would further eat into demand for U.S. auto sales, which hit a 26-year low in November.
"The U.S. economy would be in shambles," Merkle said. "The robust U.S. economy that Toyota and the others depend on would suddenly not be as lucrative."
Enter new competition
The final concern for the overseas automakers is a longer-term problem. The failure of a U.S. automaker could open the door for a Chinese or Indian automaker to buy up the assets of the failed company and create a new low-cost competitor in the U.S.
"You could open the door for foreign companies to buy distressed assets at rock-bottom prices," he said. He pointed to India's Tata (TTM) and China's Geely as two automakers in the developing world that are already on record as being interested in expanding into western markets like the United States.