In the news ... Automotive manufacturers

Bring us up to speed

There was more grim news for auto manufacturers as figures on Monday showed UK car sales fell by over 30 per cent in a year. Just 313,912 cars were registered in March - a month that usually accounts for a fifth of annual sales as new number plates are issued. The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) fuelled calls for the Government to bring in a 'scrapping scheme', where motorists are given money for trading in old cars.

The media reaction

The SMMT used the figures to promote its arguments for a scrapping scheme. SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt, said: 'The UK is the only major European market not to implement a scheme.' The media picked up on the theme, with many reporting new car registrations in Germany increased by 40 per cent and France by ten per cent thanks to their recently adopted schemes.

Who are the PR players?

The industry's lobbying efforts are being channelled through the SMMT. As well as lobbying for the introduction of the scrapping charge in the Budget, the association is looking for the Government to increase the £2.3bn in loans already promised to the industry.

What happens next?

While there are no major UK-owned manufacturers left standing, the industry is still worth £51bn to the UK economy, employing a workforce of more than 850,000 people. The industry argues it can only prosper with government help. One bright spot is that sales of the smallest cars rose 84 per cent in March.

30.5% - Year-on year slump in UK car sales in March.

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