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Driving off a cliff

European car sales are falling off a cliff. Figures published yesterday show that European sales dropped 8.5pc last month. Sales so far this year have fallen 6.6pc to 8.6m cars and industry bodies now expect 2012 sales to be the lowest in 17 years.

The results of this new indifference to the car are being felt everywhere. Opel skirted with death earlier in the crisis and has proposed closing a factory at the end of 2016 in the first shutdown of a German car plant since World War Two.

Saab has died several times. Peugeot is about to suffer an ignominious ejection from France's leading stock index. Fiat is halting production at Pomigliano, and even the mighty Volkswagen has cut forecasts. This is an industry in real trouble.

Irish Independent