Tony Worthy• In March, 397,383 new cars
were registered, a 26.6% rise on a difficult March 2009. The
positive influence of scrappage continued in March, accounting for
12.2% of registrations.

Private buyers led growth, but fleet and business
demand also improved.

Growth across all sales types through the first
quarter of  2010 demonstrates underlying stability, which
should sustain the post-scrappage market. Registrations of UK built
cars rose 52.1% in March.

“The UK motor industry has enjoyed a better than
anticipated first quarter of 2010,” said Paul Everitt, chief
executive  of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

“A strong March performance was underpinned by the
scrappage incentive and improving demand in the fleet sector,”
Everitt added.

“The coming months will remain challenging and
headline registration numbers are expected to dip, but underlying
demand will continue to improve slowly.”


• The number of cars on UK roads has fallen for the
first time in 64 years, bucking the upward trend which has traced a
year-on-year rise in the vehicle parc since the end of World War

According to the SMMT the UK car parc stood at
31,035,791 cars in 2009, a year-on-year fall of 0.7 per cent and
the first peacetime decline since vehicle records began in

The SMMT attributed the reduction to the impact of
the recession, more vigorous licence enforcement and the success of
the scrappage scheme, which took 284,479 older cars off the road
over the course of 2009.

UK car production increased sharply in February,
figures have shown, rising 62.7% on the same month last year. It
marks the fourth month in a row that output has seen a year-on-year
increase, according to the SMMT.

Chief executive Everitt said the figures were
“encouraging” and attributed the rise to the weakness of the pound
helping exporters.

UK engine production was up 58.9% in February, said
the SMMT.


• Retail sales on the UK high street have grown for
the second month running, and sales growth is expected to continue
at a similar pace through Easter.

Car dealers are becoming increasingly confident
about their business prospects in the coming months, according to a
new industry survey.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation’s latest
Dealer Attitude Survey has revealed that 75 per cent of
networks are now more satisfied about their profit returns, while
two-thirds have become happier with the relationship with


• Customers buying a new car from 1 April will be
subject to a new first-year rate of vehicle excise duty, also
referred to as a showroom tax, designed to steer buyers towards
choosing lower-emitting models.

The one-off rate will apply to all new cars for the
first year of registration with the exact cost based on the
vehicle’s CO2 emissions.


• Figures from the SMMT show that 324,991 new cars
were registered through the scrappage scheme by the end of

Nearly 65% of people believe the scrappage scheme
benefitted car makers far more than it did motorists, according to
a new poll by Motorpoint, an independent supplier of new and nearly
new cars.

That was the damning verdict from 62% of drivers on
the government-backed subsidy, which officially ended on 31 March.
Over 1,000 people were quizzed on the company’s website.


• New car sales in Europe rose by 3.2% in February
compared with the same month a year earlier, but fell almost 30% in
Germany as its scrappage scheme ended.


• Europe’s biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, saw net
profits fall 80% last year to €960m.

Operating profits also fell, down 71% from a year
earlier to €1.9billion, while revenues fell 8% to €105bn.

But global sales rose 1.3% to 6.3m vehicles, thanks
to a 36.7% jump in deliveries to China.


• Sarah Sillars, executive chair of the Institute
of the Motor Industry (IMI), and her daughter Rachael have started
training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for the motor and allied trades
charity, BEN.

Sarah and Rachael will be taking on the challenge
on 17 September 2010 and are hoping to raise £10,000 for the
charity which provides care and support to people with a connection
to the automotive and related industries in the UK and Ireland.

Sarah became a board member of BEN in 2009 and has
been Chief Executive of the IMI since 2002.

Speaking of her forthcoming climb, Sarah said: “I
have been a huge fan of BEN for the last 10 years and it is the
IMI’s dedicated charity. Now that I have joined the BEN board I
thought I should put myself out of my comfort zone and try to raise
some money for them.

“I like a challenge and there seemed a compelling
case to trek Kilimanjaro – to show people that I really am prepared
to go the extra mile for BEN.”


• The Chinese car maker Geely has signed a deal to
buy Volvo from US car giant Ford for $1.8bn (£1.2bn). The
agreement, which was first announced in December, is the biggest
overseas purchase by a Chinese car manufacturer.


• Nissan has confirmed its new Leaf electric
vehicle will be produced in Sunderland at the start of 2013.

The Japanese brand is expecting an initial annual
production of 50,000 units and is investing £420m in producing the
new model which includes battery production.

The investment will be supported by a £20.7m grant
for business investment from the government and a proposed finance
package from the European Investment Bank of up to £197.3m.


• A damning verdict on the UK’s £24bn secondhand
car market has been published by the fair trading watchdog. One in
five of the 3.6m people buying a secondhand car from a dealer each
year experienced a problem, the Office of Fair Trading said.


Glass’s Guide has reduced car values by
2% for April. The exceptions, it said, are convertibles coming into
season and some 4x4s.

The guide said that the sector will move into a
quiet phase after the busy plate change in March and the “likely
distraction’ of the general election on 6 May.


• According to the UK government’s Monetary Policy
Committee, the turnaround in the global economy over the last year
has been quite impressive, given the scale of the shocks from the
financial crisis.

That should give us grounds for encouragement that
continued growth in the global economy will provide a supportive
backdrop for recovery in the UK – even if some of our important
markets, such as the economies of the euro area, may be turning
around more slowly.

Indeed, the IMF’s medium-term forecasts for the
world economy over the next five years point to stronger global
growth than we experienced in previous recoveries from the major
recessions in the 1980s and 1990s.

Overseas demand for UK-made goods is continuing to
recover with export order books the least depressed since August
2008, according to a CBI survey.

But the business group warned that overall demand
remains weak.


• Used car guide Cap Black Book has
cautioned dealers to be wary of overvalued off road vehicles in the
used car market. It said the sector was “overheated” after values
had “consistently” risen ahead of the rest of the market.


• About 2,000 manufacturing jobs in the West
Midlands have been safeguarded by production of the new Jaguar XJ,
a car industry advisory group has said.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said the model was vital to
helping it survive the recession and had also helped the region’s
car components industry.

It has employed 400 staff for the XJ production,
which is being assembled at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham. Car
industry body Accelerate said every JLR job supported five others


• Used car sales in the UK fell in 2009 to their
lowest point since 2000 as buyers took advantage of scrappage deals
to buy new models, according to the latest data from Experian, the
global information services company.

Annual sales fell by 5.7% during 2009 to
6,798,864 used cars. The last time the used car industry
experienced similar performance was in 2000, when 6,713,269 used
cars were sold.