Britain’s car industry will not suffer a total collapse following Vauxhall‘s decision to axe 2,200 jobs at its Luton plant, according to a leading academic quoted by the Ananova internet news service. Professor Garel Rhys says the industry will weather the current problems and come out in good shape.

But he believes that Nissan may transfer production of the new Micra from Sunderland to France, which could lead to 1,300 job losses.

Professor Rhys, who is Director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at the Cardiff University Business School, said: “What has happened is not a sign of the complete meltdown of the industry. The problems are with the weakest elements in the industry.”

Britain’s other car plants are unlikely to be hit by redundancies provided they made products that people wanted, he argues. He believes Vauxhall will retain its remaining car plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, which is the home of the Astra.

Professor Rhys says jobs were lost at Luton because of General Motors‘ ‘failure to retain market share’ which meant it produced cars that no-one bought.

Elsewhere there is plenty of cause for optimism, Professor Rhys says. Honda is building a second car factory in Swindon, which will recruit 1,000 people, while Toyota says it has a ‘very firm committment to the UK’ where it builds the Corolla and Avensis models.

BMW is also investing in the UK with 1,500 jobs being created at a new Rolls Royce plant in Goodwood, Surrey.

But bleaker news has included Ford’s decision to move Fiesta car production from Dagenham, East London to Cologne in Germany, by 2002, which will cost 2,000 jobs.

Nissan says it is taking a ‘a very considered view’ on further investment in Sunderland before making a decision on where the next generation of Micra is to be built but Professor Rhys argues that the car will be made in France ‘because it makes sound industrial logic to do so’, according to Ananova.