If you thought scrappage was confusing when it was announced a month ago, who would have thought the day it went live it would suddenly become a lot more complicated.

Ford and Honda said this morning they will not be able to take part because of an unresolved and ultimately essential detail involving VAT and dealer margins.

Alarm bells began ringing almost as soon as the scrappage fanfare died down at the end of April.

It was just a few days after the plans, which had a dubious lack of detail, were revealed that the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) called the government into a meeting armed with 50 questions that needed to be answered.

A week ago, the day before the deadline for manufacturers to sign up, the SMMT said that these concerns had been answered, but discussions continued.

At the same time it was revealed there had been a number of changes to the rules, no doubt as a result of much wrangling from the dealers and manufacturers.

Ford and Honda delay scrappage

The intention of scrappage is positive, whether you agree with it or not, and anything to stimulate industry must be championed.

But it can’t help looking like it was rushed a little, which is strange because everyone’s been talking about it since last year, and once the initial excitement had died down there was a stark realisation, surprise even, of the task in hand.

As this blog is being written the SMMT is saying it is pleased with today’s discussions and “is confident that the final details will be resolved shortly.” It seems strange that the government can get it so wrong. In these times car makers have got enough to do trying to sell cars , let alone spending endless hours in a string of meetings. At the same time the government asked for guidance, and it was clearly needed.

With any luck the whole thing will be sorted out soon, but it was a faltering start to what was supposed to be the saviour of the car industry. All this talk and not enough agreement is starting to sound rather familiar.

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