labels: Automobiles - general
UK car sales fall further in February news
10 March 2009

The number of new car registrations for February in the UK continued to decline as carmakers in the country cut production and jobs and urged the government to do more for the beleaguered auto industry.

The Society for Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) in the UK, releasing the figures for February said that new car registrations fell 21.9 per cent in February to 54,359 units, down from 69,610 the year before.

The market for diesel-powered cars also decreased to 44.1 per cent from 45 per cent in February 2008.

The SMMT said that the overall new car market is likely to fall to 1.72 million units this year, from 2.13 million in 2008 and 2.4 million in 2007. The SMMT also anticipates that the March figure will fall in line with the reduction seen over the first two months of the year.

''New car registrations continue to decline and although government recognises the strategic importance of the UK motor industry, urgent action is still needed,'' said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

''Other European countries have been proactive in assisting their automotive industries and it is imperative that UK government increases the pace in responding to industry proposals for a scrappage scheme and access to finance and credit,'' he added.

February is typically one of the lowest volume months for new car registrations in the UK, being just prior to the registration plate change in March. February typically accounts for just 3.4 per cent of annual sales, compared with 18 per cent in March.

The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling car in February for the fourth month in a row, selling 3,260 units followed by the Ford Focus, with sales of 3,241, and the Vauxhall Corsa, up 2,856.

With the ongoing financial carnage created at Wall-Street, recession will continue to intensify and hit the auto industry in its belly not only in the UK but all over the US and Europe.

The auto industry in the UK is asking the government to introduce the scrappage scheme, which is already implemented in Germany, but 10 Downing Street is not sure whether the scheme would offer value for money.

The government however has bought out a support package of 2.3 billion in late January to support the country's car industry with 2.3 billion loan guarantees to save 200,000 jobs employed directly by automakers and a further 640,000 indirectly, although it falls far short of the 13 billion asked by the Unite union. (See: Britain unveils 2.3-billion loan for car industry)

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite had said that, "This package is too little. But it is not yet too late. Ministers must leave behind the failed free-market philosophy once and for all and intervene decisively now.''

''The principle of government intervention to support strategically vital industries, such as the car industry, have now been established, and we will be pressing to ensure that we build on this from here on in," he added.

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UK car sales fall further in February