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UK’s ‘triple dip’ recession may have some good news for the motor trade at least.

As I write this halfway through the first month of 2013, many of us are in that lengthy period between the cheerful excesses of Christmas and the wait for the dreaded credit card bill to drop on the mat! In the motor trade, the hope of a  fortune filled new year is at odds with the rest of the doom and gloom on the high street. With such long-established names as Woolworth, Comet, Jessops and now even HMV in administration, our town centres will soon be full of nothing more than betting shops, kebab emporiums and, of course, TK Maxx and Primark.With the Bank of England base rate of interest still at only 0.5%, banks and finance companies offering loans at around 7% are clearly onto a ‘good earner’ and despite lending criteria being much stricter, it’s still possible to borrow the money to buy a new car if you’ve a reasonable credit rating. Despite the general air of uncertainty surrounding job security, according to the  SMMT (that’s the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), new car registrations rose by over 5% in 2012. The sales totalled over 2 million, reaching the highest level since pre-recession days in 2008. The main bulk of this increase was through private buyers whose demand rose by almost 13% and led to the fastest growth rate in 11 years!

The list of top selling cars had a familiar ring to it, with Ford and Vauxhall maxing out the top four places with the Fiesta, Focus, Corsa and Astra respectively. The ever popular Volkswagen Golf came in fifth and the British-built Nissan Qashqai came a surprising sixth place. The overall rise in registrations was the second annual increase since the start of the downturn in 2008, though the market still remained roughly 15% down since the peak of 2007, when credit was freely available to virtually  anyone with a bank account!

Better news still is that, looking ahead, the experts are anticipating that 2013 will continue the trend and sales will remain at a steady level. Although some fear that the continued squeezing of consumers could see a fall in sales unless manufacturers continue their deep discounting.

One piece of bad news for the UK’s car manufacturing business is that the huge Honda factory in Swindon has announced that due to reduction in demand for its new cars, there will be 600 job losses. It seems strange that of the many cars still ‘made in Britain’, few are actually British marques. I remember well the stodgy Bluebird of the late 1980’s being one of the first cars to be built at Nissan’s Sunderland factory by happy Geordies. Following the demise of the  MG/Rover Group in 2004/5, patriotic Brits have little choice of what to buy if a true British car is a must.

With nearly all our famous marques now been acquired by the Germans (Bentley, Rolls Royce, Mini), Chinese (MG), India (Land Rover, Aston Martin, Jaguar), it’s a sad fact that the most British cars you can buy really are the  Nissan Qashqai, Honda Civic or Toyota Auris!