Business chief calls for more help for car industry

The car industry is going through an "extreme and frightening rollercoaster" and needs urgent help in the coming months to cope with the recession, a business leader said.

The car industry is going through an "extreme and frightening rollercoaster" and needs urgent help in the coming months to cope with the recession, a business leader said.

David Smith, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, told a business meeting that people were "rightly anxious" about the future of manufacturing.

He praised the government for recognising the need to help the industry, but said it would be a "tragedy" if an aid package was not delivered on time to avert the industrial consequences of the current economic crisis.

He told the manufacturing dinner of the CBI in Birmingham: "Few businesses go through more dramatic financial rollercoasters than the car business and right now this is the most extreme and frightening rollercoaster I've ever been on."

Smith said someone needed to put "oil back into the engine" of the industry, stressing that firms wanted access to short-term loans or loan guarantees to keep the wheels turning during a "once-in-a-century" economic recession.

Speaking alongside Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Smith said: "I am pleased to see that in recent weeks the government has recognised this need and is prepared to take action, but we need it quickly and urgently to help manufacturing industry over the next few months.

"I know the Secretary of State has asked his department to investigate further ways and means of stimulating demand and to move to execute his plan with utmost urgency.

"It would now be a tragedy were the aid package not to be delivered in time to avert the industrial consequences of another quarter like this one.

"We've already seen tens of billions of support provided by the Germans, the French, the Swedes and the Americans for their automotive industry, which some of the carmakers in the UK can also benefit from."

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