The British car industry still has a great future despite the recent gloom of Ryton and Ellesmere Port, it was claimed yesterday.
Matthew Carrington, chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said the UK car industry could still be as efficient as any in the world.
Speaking at a RMIF conference in Birmingham yesterday, he said: "You can concentrate too much on Ryton, Ellesmere Port and Long-bridge, but car manufacturing in the UK has a great future.
"You also have to look at what the Japanese are doing for example, with the invest-ment and off-licences they are achieving.
"That shows it is quite possible to make cars with excellent quality, efficiently and cost effectively in the UK.
"We have got a big car market, very big competitive business and there is no reason at all that we cannot be as efficient at producing cars as any other country."
Jonathan Browning, chairman of Vauxhall, said the axing of the 900 workers at Ellesmere Port last month had not sealed the long-term future of the factory.
He said the focus in the coming months would be on improving the competitiveness of the plant.
Mr Browning said General Motors wanted to keep manufacturing operations in the UK, and would be working with the Government, unions and workers to secure ongoing production there.
Industry experts had warned that the end of the third shift at Ellesmere Port, which has a number of suppliers in the Midlands, would reduce production capacity and in turn increase the cost per unit of each car produced there.
This could act as a self fulfilling prophecy and seal the fate of the factory which is competing with plants in Germany and Belgium for the next generation of the Astra.
Mr Browning insisted this was not the case.
"It is very important that we focus on our priority task of getting Ellesmere Port to the competitive levels we want to see it at so it is successful in winning the next generation of the Astra.
"We want to keep our manufacturing operations here in the UK. We think the UK is a very important market for General Motors and it has got to have a manufacturing footprint here.
"But the performance has to be competitive. The pressure is on to make Ellesmere Port so it can compete with every plant in Western Europe."
Mr Browning said Vauxhall was working with trades unions, the workers, local and central government and development agencies to put together a range of measures at Ellesmere Port to boost productivity.
General Motors is expected to make a decision on where the new car will be built in the middle of next year. Mr Browning said the removal of the third shift made the factory the right size for the next generation Astra - it would replace the current model built there.
"Far from making it less competitive, this is an important step in making sure it is in the most competitive position to bid for the new car.
"When we introduce new processes and new manufacturing methods, it means you can produce each model with less hours than the existing ones.
"I am confident we are going to work as hard as we can to win that investment for the new car."
Mr Browing said this was the sole focus of the effort at Ellesmere Port, with other plans such as building a more prestigious, higher margin car, or turning it into an engine making plant not being considered.
He said: "We do not want to dilute our focus. Losing the jobs was a step in the right direction, although we regret the impact on people's lives."
Chris Grayling, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said he did not think governments could tell car companies where to locate, but added extra deregulation could encourage more to stay in the UK.
He said: "We cannot have a say in where models go. All we can do is is create the right environment and conditions in this country."