Carmakers, dealers disagree with suppliers about whether the economy has hit bottom

Wiesbaden. Carmakers and dealers say that the German industry has hit the bottom of the economic downturn but suppliers have never been gloomier.

The industry as a whole is optimistic that the business climate is about to improve, according to an index of economic trends produced by automotive consulting specialist ACON.

The index registered 61.0 points at the end of the first half of 2003 compared with 57.2 points at the end of the first quarter.

Carmakers were the most optimistic at 72.9 points compared with 58.2 points in the first quarter, an indication that they believe the upcoming IAA auto show in Frankfurt will give their businesses a major boost.

Dealers have been infected by this optimism, rating future business prospects higher by 6.2 points than in the previous quarter, despite worries about the introduction of the new block exemption rules.

But suppliers feel that the industry is still heading downhill. The supply industry's climate index is at its lowest in the history of the ACON index with an average of 45.1 points, two points below the previous quarter,

Financial service providers hardly seem worried at all, registering 77.8 points.

Juergen Freitaeger, chairman of ACON, emphasizes the positive mood: "There is definitely new hope on the horizon. The industry has not lost its head during the crisis but has used the time to undertake necessary changes within the process structures."

Freitaeger predicted: "In future this will make them even less susceptible to crisis."

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