Car sales expected to top 190,000 in 2013

The Fiat 500 remains among Scotland's best selling cars. Picture: AFP
The Fiat 500 remains among Scotland's best selling cars. Picture: AFP
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INDUSTRY bosses have hiked their expectations for new car sales after private buyers continued to flock to showrooms last month.

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) said it now expected sales north of the Border to top 190,000 for the year after an “excellent” first half. That would mark the strongest outcome since 2007, before the onset of the financial crisis.

The upgrade, from a previous forecast of 185,000 registrations, came as monthly figures revealed a 13.8 per cent rise in sales in June, compared to a year earlier. The UK-wide increase was 13.4 per cent.

Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the SMTA, said that private buyers were underpinning demand and accounted for more than 55 per cent of new car business last month.

“Scotland has always been more of a private buyers’ market than the rest of the UK and this is reflected in our 14.3 per cent increase over last year compared with the rest of the UK’s 9.6 per cent uplift,” added Robertson.

“Following this excellent first half of 2013 we wonder if, perhaps, we can now look at adjusting our original forecast.”

Sales totalled 18,999 units in June, with the Ford Fiesta the top-selling model, closely followed by the similarly-sized Vauxhall Corsa. The same Ford super-mini took top spot in the UK listing. There were just under 215,000 sales in the UK, marking the 16th consecutive month of growth, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), which compiles the data.

Britain has been in the fast lane for some time with steady year-on-year gains contrasting with sharp falls across much of continental Europe. Buyers have been attracted by new, fuel-efficient models, finance deals and generous trade-in offers.

UK-wide registrations for the six months to 30 June increased by 10 per cent year-on-year to 1,163,623. The SMMT said there had now been six successive quarters of growth.

It is estimated that motorists switching to more fuel-efficient cars helped reduce average new car carbon dioxide emissions by 3.7 per cent on a year ago.

SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said: “Boosted by consistently strong private demand and further growth in June, half-year new car registrations have topped the one million mark.

“June secured the 16th month of consecutive growth, a clear indicator that manufacturers and dealers are delivering desirable new products with tangible cost savings from the latest fuel-efficient technology coupled to a wide variety of competitive finance offers. While there are still potential challenges ahead, recent robust growth suggests that the market is on course to perform well ahead of 2012 levels.”

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at forecasting consultancy IHS Global Insight, said: “The motor industry will be hoping that the apparent recent improvement in UK economic activity is sustained and extended, and that this increasingly boosts consumer and business confidence, and their willingness to splash out on new cars.”

The top ten

1 Ford Fiesta 1,101

2 Vauxhall Corsa 1,055

3 Ford Focus 600

4 Vauxhall Astra 599

5 BMW 3-Series 461

6 VW Polo 437

7 BMW 1-Series 421

8 Nissan Qashqai 405

9 Renault Clio 370

10 Fiat 500 365

UK

1 Ford Fiesta 11,332

2 Ford Focus 9,128

3 Vauxhall Corsa 8,868

4 Vauxhall Astra 7,074

5 VW Golf 5,875

6 BMW 3-Series 5,432

7 VW Polo 4,703

8 BMW 1-Series 4,678

9 Nissan Qashqai 4,507

10 Peugeot 208 3,649

Source: SMMT