The snappily named Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, ‘smut’ for short, reckons there were 0.7% fewer motors on Britain’s roads at the end of last year than at year-end 2008.
Basing its estimates on figures released – like mink from a fur farm – by the equally snappily named Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (motto: the DVLA is in the detail), smut suggests this is the first time the UK car count has come down since Hitler took a Walther to his own horrible head back in the day.
What can have precipitated this alarming decline? Why, only a perfect storm of recession, scrappage, and the positively draconian enforcement of the law of the land in and as much as it relates to vehicles of an unroadworthy or untaxed presuasion.
The consensus view, with the economy still sluggish – even prior to post-election exhalation – and with fuel prices soaring, is that the downward trend could well continue into 2010, notwithstanding the scrappage of scrappage, well ahead of capture by the dictionary compilers.
“Because of the scrappage scheme, cars that would have remained in the market were taken out of circulation,” Garel Rhys, Emeritus Professor at Cardiff Business School told Fleet Directory News in an uncanny echo of the (exact same) words he used when talking to the Telegraph last month. “These cars,” he continued, “would have been sold through small advertisements. Instead 400,000 have disappeared.”
Sounds like a case for Mulder and Scully.