The prospect of a resumption of production of MGTF sports cars at Longbridge was welcomed yesterday by Geoff Percy, West Midlands regional chairman of the CBI.

However, he said it was difficult to understand how it could work with only "a low level number of employees" at the plant.

"But we would rather be in this position talking about car production in the region than not talking about them," said Mr Percy.

He said the public and businesses which may benefit from the re-start of production in August by SAIC-Nanjing should not let negative scenarios cloud what was happening.

Mr Percy, speaking after a CBI regional council meeting at the British Jewellery, Giftware & Finishing Federation in the Jewellery Quarter, said Jaguar and Land Rover were also making cars people wanted to buy.

If the MGTF was a niche production model it could be successful as major manufacturers already had to cope with far too much production and competing models were vying for market share.

Chris Clifford, CBI West Midlands regional director, said the decision to start production again had not been as quick as people anticipated but to retain the iconic MG marque in the region was a sign of confidence and he hoped people would support that decision.

Mr Percy said members at the meeting indicated they were less optimistic about the next quarter.

"About half our members have reported demand is steady," he said. "But a growing number have seen demand falling.

"On the other hand we have a reduced number of businesses expecting employment numbers to drop."

Most companies were lean, said Mr Clifford, and that gave companies scope to cope with the situation they were facing.

The increase in steel and energy prices was leading to about half the regional membership confronting the likelihood that manufacturing costs would rise.