LONDON (AP) -- Vehicle production in the United Kingdom slumped by nearly half in December from the same month the year before as the credit crisis continued to hit demand hard, a trade group said Thursday.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, or SMMT, said nearly 48 percent fewer cars were made in December 2008 compared with the previous year, meaning that in 2008 as a whole car proudction dropped by almost six percent. In addition, the group said commercial vehicle production fell about 57 percent in December from the previous year, with full year production down six percent.
The society said it is in talks with the British government about how the industry can deal with the financial crisis, which has massively reduced the amount of credit available both to consumers and the car manufacturers.
"SMMT has been in close discussion with UK government on the urgent need to improve access to credit and kick-start demand in the market, in order to sustain valuable industrial capability during this exceptionally difficult period," said Paul Everitt, the trade body's chief executive.
The woes afflicting the British car industry are echoed around the world, particularly in the U.S., where sales plunged 18 percent in 2008. Facing the prospect of a possible bankruptcy of either General Motors Corp. or Chrysler LLC, the Bush administration provided $17.4 billion in short-term loans to shore up their finances ahead of major restructuring.