If anyone had doubted the impact of the economic crisis on the automotive industry, the cancellation of the London motor show is harsh evidence of the state of the sector.

While some see this is a reflection of the shows’ importance falling down the world pecking order, for others this decision is a sign that the automotive industry is not too optimistic about things improving any time soon.

In many cases the motor industry’s pain is the consumer’s gain, and according to car-buying website Parker’s, Monday 23 March was the best day to buy a car in 2009. A combination of price cuts, excess stock and dealer targets made it the optimum time to purchase.

What better way could there be to save some money on a new vehicle than by purchasing the world’s cheapest car at less than £1300. Launched in India and known as the ‘People’s Car’ the Tata Nano has made car ownership achievable for millions more people. While the four-door five-seater car with a 33bhp engine might not win you any credibility in the work car park, the price can not be sniffed at.

But if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious a hybrid may be a good avenue to take. With new models launching into the market like the new Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight, sustainable vehicles are becoming a credible option. The problem is that while they could significantly reduce your running costs they still aren’t cheap to purchase in the first place, which is likely to prove a barrier to many buyers.

At the moment many people are looking small in their vehicle selection, saving significant amounts by downsizing. Small cars make a huge amount of sense with the up-front costs of purchase tending to be less and the potential to make big savings on running costs.

With a host of smaller cars delivering excellent mpg performance like the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion (74.3mpg), Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (76.3mpg) and Ford Fiesta Econetic (76.3mpg) the average driver can make serious inroads into cutting their fuel expenditure.

If you shop around there has never been a better time to bag a bargain, but whatever car you drive there are plenty of things that you can do to improve efficiency and cut costs. Other than hanging up the car keys altogether the simplest and best way to save money is to drive more sympathetically – making a few adjustments to your driving style can lead to significant reductions in both fuel and maintenance costs.