As U.S. automakers post steep declines in profits amid a global credit crisis and a worldwide slowdown in vehicle sales, policy experts are debating their long-term prospects. General Motors and Chrysler received billions of dollars in emergency federal loans and are under intense government pressure to find a path toward profitability. Ford lost a record amount last year but insists it can survive without federal help. Management and the United Auto Workers union argue that letting even one automobile giant fail would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy. Skeptics say, however, that automakers have had years to reform themselves and that without steep cost reductions, more union concessions and major sacrifices by dealers and suppliers, the industry's future is dim. Both domestic and foreign automakers are pouring resources into a new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles they hope will revive the industry.