Tony Worthy• 
The new car market in February rose 26.4% to 68,686 units, paving
the way for the March plate-change this month. Much of the March
recovery will be attributable to scrappage and the scheme accounted
for 19.6% of the market in February. Final orders through the
scheme must be made by the end of March, or sooner if funds run
out. The scheme’s impact will diminish during the second quarter,
with market decline expected in the second half of 2010. All sales
types reported growth in February, but this remains focused on the
scrappage-boosted private sector. Likewise, demand for small cars
continues to rise strongly. Alternatively-fuelled cars doubled
their market share to 1% in February. Paul Everitt, chief executive
of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said:
“Scrappage has generated eight consecutive months of growth in the
new car market and we expect its benefits to stretch beyond the
scheme’s closure later this month. “Strengthening business and
consumer confidence remains industry’s priority. A clear and
consistent approach to CO2-based taxation, and improved
access to affordable credit, are essential elements in sustaining
recovery in the new car market.”


•  With the government’s scrappage incentive
due to expire at the end of March, UK car companies are predicting
new vehicle sales to fall by as much as 10 per cent this year to
between 1.7m and 1.8m. As well as the end of scrappage there are
other issues which could come into play such as new showroom taxes
starting on 1 April, the possibility of a new government, and a
rumoured hike in VAT to 20%. A rise in VAT is the biggest concern,
with senior motor industry executives at the Geneva Motor Show
saying such a move could be “disastrous” for business. New showroom
taxes will hit high-emission vehicles hardest but additional VAT
will hit all big-ticket items.


•  General Motors will contribute a €1.9bn
(£1.7bn) funding package to its Opel/Vauxhall operations as part of
its commitment to the European viability plan, more than tripling
its previous investment pledge of €600m.


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•  General Motors has pulled the plug on its
Hummer brand after plans to sell it to Sichuan Tengzhong, the
Chinese carmaker, failed. GM said it would now begin the “orderly
wind-down of the Hummer operations”.


Geneva debut: VW Touareg Hybrid•  Volkswagen has fleshed out its plans to
expand its fleet of electric vehicles and become the market leader
in electric drive vehicles by 2018. In addition to the introduction
of the Touareg Hybrid at the Geneva Motor Show, next year will see
a test fleet of 500 electric Golfs. Two years later in 2013, the
German manufacturer predicts these high-volume Golf and Jetta
models will “dominate the hybrid and electric vehicle market”.