Data from two of Europe's most influential auto markets show July registrations sharply down - although both national bodies point to reasonable half-year stability.

Following 12 successive monthly rises, UK new car registrations dropped 13% according to the Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers (SMMT), while its German counterparts at the VDIK posted an even more precipitous near-30% fall.

Spain fell 24% and France 13%, while Italy plunged 26% despite not even having an incentive scheme at all.

The simple explanation is the end of most of those scrappage schemes, which have contributed continent-wide to ensuring automakers and crucially - suppliers - managing to keep their heads above water.

But with so many conflicting economic forecasts - green shoots here, double dip there and myriad combinations of Y, W and J-shaped recoveries, there is certainly no crystal ball that can accurately predict any long-term rebound.

Indeed, all the indications are consumers are hoarding cash - and although they might not exactly be keeping money in the attic - they are using that collateral to repay debt in considerable proportions.

No bad thing of course, but repaying debt doesn't make money for the banks. And if the banks don't make money, they get nervous about lending and so on.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has made comforting noises recently about encouraging various ways for that lending to take place more creatively.

But we've yet to hear any detail. In fact, the lending mantra has become a drum the new UK government is banging extremely hard of late, but there appears to be precious little flesh on the bones.

And in a week when almost all UK banks have stormed back in black, the British administration is virtually imploring them to start lending to SMEs and consumers in a meaningful way.

But in uncertain times, consumers are being ultra-cautious and keeping a weather eye on severe governmental purse-tightening to come.

And the spectre of so-called 'stagflation' - a flat economy coupled with rising inflation - could well force interest rates to rise.

Automakers are going to have to come up with ever-more inventive ways - 'swappage' is one example although trading-in has been occurring for years - or individual financial incentives - to entice consumers back to the showrooms.

And with governments eyeing sales taxes as a quick fix to plug some of the hole, it's going to be an interesting ride.