The Swabian translation would probably be: "I wouldn't give anything" - we don't give anything.

First, the loss-making Stuttgart-based auto parts supplier Mahle, in a remarkable step, asked the big auto companies for financial help.

Increased material, energy and production costs as well as serious supply chain problems pushed the company to the wall, it said.

A few days later, Mercedes - also from Stuttgart - presented a quarterly profit of more than 5 billion euros.

And CFO Harald Wilhelm, when asked about Mahle's call for help, gives his supplier a hard time.

"As far as profitability is concerned, everyone is responsible for themselves," he said.

Christian Muessgens

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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Henning Peitsmeier

Business correspondent in Munich.

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Gustave parts

Business correspondent in Stuttgart.

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The rare, public exchange of blows gives an insight into the mood of Germany's leading industry.

The automotive industry is struggling ever harder to distribute the burdens of the Ukraine war, economic weakness and inflation.

As confirmed by Mercedes on request, Mahle had previously sent a fire letter to its major customer in writing, with which the manufacturer, known as "Piston Mahle", summed up the position of many suppliers.

Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW earn splendidly despite falling sales figures.

Because of the scarce supply of new cars, they hardly have to grant discounts.

Many suppliers, on the other hand, are on the brink.

They hardly manage to pass on increasing costs.

Warnings of a conflagration are getting louder and louder.

The public perception has recently been very different.

When the on-board electrical systems produced by suppliers like Leoni in the west of the country went missing overnight after the war began in Ukraine, the German car companies rushed to help.

Since then, production has been “duplicated” under high pressure, and locations in Romania, Tunisia and Morocco have been expanded.

"Our customers support us in this," said Leoni boss Aldo Kamper recently to the FAZ VW has even set up its own special fund for Ukraine aid, and BMW has also made funds available.

Because without the vehicle electrical systems, which are something like the nervous systems of vehicles, nothing works for car manufacturers.

"Support for suppliers is important to the state government"

But a number of suppliers now also want financial compensation for other impacts.

According to Bosch, the world's largest supplier, the prices for raw materials, energy and semiconductors have tripled in some cases since 2020.

The consequences are serious for the car supplier division of the Stuttgart-based foundation group: "We have to be prepared for persistently high prices and pass on the price increases to our customers in order to be able to be profitable in the automotive business in the future." The suppliers get backing from IG Metall, which has been warning for some time that the supplier structure, which is largely characterized by medium-sized companies, will collapse.