The UK is a shining light in an otherwise bleak European car market, according to Vauxhall chairman and managing director Duncan Aldred.
Speaking after the unveiling of the new General Motors Europe ADAM city car on the eve of the Paris motor show, Aldred said manufacturers in continental Europe were looking with envy at the UK market which is expected to see close to 400,000 registrations of 62-plate models in September alone.
"This sort of figure makes us stand out in the European market place," he said. "The UK is a shining light in an otherwise bleak market, particularly when you look at southern Europe as a whole."
Aldred said while the huge Russian market took millions of cars, it is not particularly profitable for car makers, and even the traditionally strong German market is showing signs of slipping, but the UK is a profitable place in which to sell cars, helped by the exchange rate and the weak euro.
He called for the government to help the UK motor industry with a strategic long term plan, which it would stick to, and consider how the automotive sector could be helped to create jobs and wealth in Britain by attracting more manufacturers and component suppliers to manufacture more in the UK.
"With the work being done by the automotive council, the government now realises the enormous potential of the sector to create wealth in Britain," said Aldred, adding: "What we need is not only more locally sourced components, which would cut down on logistics costs, but also more cars and vans being built here, and there is no reason why in a few years we should not be making all the cars we buy here."
Vauxhall wants to triple UK content in Opel/Vauxhall Astra cars built in Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool and the Vivaro vans at company HQ in Luton, north of London, but needs more supplier support to raise the proportion from the 10% to 30% currently by value.
Ironically, the two assembly plants this week suspended production for five days to reduce over-supply to Europe and Aldred said he hoped this would be the only time they did that but the company had to consider developing situations all the time.
He said the new three-door, four-seat Vauxhall ADAM would be in UK dealerships in February for between GBP11,255 and GBP14,000 and claimed it would break new ground with its dramatic exterior and interior styling and features which provided over a million possible combinations for buyers.
The ADAM will be sold with three trim levels: Jam, Glam and Slam, and a choice of 70ps 1.2 and 87ps or 100ps 1.4-litre petrol engines and with a 1.0-litre petrol direct injection with sixe-speed gearbox, a powertrain which dips under the 100g/km CO2 emissions mark critical in the UK because it currently greatly reduces annual 'road tax' costs and dodges the daily London Congestion Charge.
Paint and options include the latest in-car media systems which will be cutting edge and highly desirable.
Vauxhall anticipates selling between 10,000 and 12,000 ADAM models in Britain in a full year and that 80% will go to retail buyers.