• New car registrations rose by 38.9 percent in
December 2009 to 150,936 units. The full-year registrations were
down 6.4 percent to 1.995 million units, the lowest level since
1995. Since its introduction, the scrappage scheme has accounted
for over a fifth of all new car registrations and is estimated to
represent 20.8 percent of the December market.

“The December new car market was boosted by the
scrappage incentive scheme and consumers looking to avoid January’s
VAT increase,” said Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
chief executive Paul Everitt.

“The 2009 market of 1.995 million new car
registrations was significantly above early expectations and
reflects the positive impact of the scheme, due to end in

Everitt continued: “Another tough year awaits the
UK motor industry in 2010, with new car registrations expected to
be below 2009 levels and only limited recovery in the van and heavy
commercial vehicle markets.”

• Confederation of British Industry director
general Richard Lambert has called on the government for an
extension of the scrappage scheme until the general election. The
government originally announced the scheme in the April 2009 Budget
and launched it in mid-May, offering a total of £300 million to get
older and high-emission cars off the road. After intensive
lobbying, it extended the scheme by £100 million or 100,000 cars to
provide a further sales stimulus.

• Business owners in the automotive sector believe
the recession has another year or more to run. The latest quarterly
survey of more than 1,000 businesses, carried out by Clifton Asset
Management, reveals 28 percent of firms have cut jobs over the past
six months, down from 34 percent in the last survey.

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• Ford has agreed the terms of the sale of its
Swedish business, Volvo Cars, to China’s Geely. Ford said “some
work still remains to be completed” but the deal will be finalised
early next year ahead of completion soon after Easter.

• Volkswagen is to buy a 20 percent stake in Suzuki
Motor for ¥222.5 billion (£1.5 billion). Suzuki will invest up to
half of that amount received from Volkswagen into shares in the
German carmaker.

• The automotive industry bucked the national trend
by seeing the rate of insolvencies rise in November, according to
the latest insolvency index from Experian. Over 50 automotive
businesses went under in November, a 13.3 percent rise on November
2008, bringing the insolvency rate for automotive businesses to
0.15 percent – its highest since December 2008.

• The balance of power between dealers and finance
companies has clearly shifted to the providers, according to a
consultant in the motor industry retail finance sector.

“There will continue to be changes to pricing
models, something that is vital for the long-term viability of
finance companies in the motor arena,” the consultant said.
“Finance has gone through major change over the past year with the
independent finance supplier base shrinking significantly.”