The September figure was held down, paradoxically, by the success of the Cash for Clunkers scrappage programme which ran briefly during the summer and drove inventory off dealer forecourts. General Motors increased sales for the first time in 21 months and Ford reported third quarter net income of nearly $1 billion.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s said the worst of the automotive industry crisis is over and that it expected world sales to stabilise next year, but that European manufacturers would have to solve their overcapacity problem and take steps to improve operating profitability if they were to retain favourable investment ratings.

However, although powder metal sales are increasing from the low levels of the first half year, they still lag some way behind the position in 2008. In the US iron powder sales were at around 66% of 2008 levels for the first three quarters; Japanese figures reflect a level of 75% and Europe about 60%.

The figures for copper powders reflect very similar percentage levels with the US at 60%, Japan at 74% and Europe at 61%.


  • Rio Tinto Metal Powders (RTMP) has reported “an unanticipated increase in orders” over the last few months. To some extent, they say, this is due to the “Cash for Clunkers” programmes in both North America and Europe, as well as a stronger demand for particular models in all geographic areas. This has made sales forecasting and advance production planning a more complex activity. Regardless of the difficulties brought on by the global recession, RTMP has continued to be active this year in a number of different areas to improve customer service.  New warehouses have been opened in North America and Europe to minimise costs and improve service. In the US, the Cottonwood warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee was closed and a new warehouse opened in St-Louis, Missouri. In Europe, the Rotterdam warehouse was closed and Antwerp was one of several new European units opened with the objective of improving efficiency.