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Things looking up?

Could the worst be over? Amidst predictions in some quarters that the end of the recession is already within sight, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) provide a further ray of light for a beleaguered industry.


The predictable fall in sales over July, to 107,635 petrol and diesel vehicles, was a drop of 17.9 per cent on a year ago, but has been received optimistically as it is the smallest drop so far in 2009.


This slowdown was  welcomed by the SMMT but they nevertheless sounded a note of caution, saying that a return to actual growth was unlikely until 2010.


The organisation’s Nikki Rooke told the BBC: “It probably won’t be until the very end of this year, possibly into 2010, that we start to see growth within the year-on-year production figures. But over the year to date we are still down nearly 50 per cent and that’s a considerable amount that needs to be made up.”


Unsurprisingly, the government cites the scrappage scheme as the X factor which has begun to breathe life back into the industry. Chancellor Alistair Darling recently told the media: “It’s not surprising that in the teeth of a pretty severe downturn, car production has gone down year on year. What we are now seeing though is an increase in production over the previous month and that is due to a significant extent to the introduction of the scrappage scheme.”


Time will tell. It is a measure of just how severe the downturn has been for the motor industry that a smaller fall than the previous month should generate optimism and expectation of recovery. But hope is something the motor industry certainly needs as we approach the fourth quarter of 2009.


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