Oil downturn dents Scots car sales as UK motors ahead

The Vauxhall Corsa was the top-selling car in Scotland in 2015
The Vauxhall Corsa was the top-selling car in Scotland in 2015
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Sales of news cars in Scotland headed into reverse last year as the impact of the downturn in the North Sea sector’s fortunes hit home, official figures have revealed.

Industry bosses yesterday expressed disappointment at news of a near 0.5 per cent dip in registrations of new vehicles, which compares with a 6.3 per cent increase for the UK a whole.

Scottish dealers sold 220,554 cars last year, down by 1,016 units, following four years of consecutive growth.

Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said: “Whilst there is no doubt we are disappointed to note that new car registrations for 2015 narrowly missed producing another record year, a small decline on last year’s total of 0.46 per cent should be taken in full context as in the result for 2014 were an all-time record for Scottish registrations.

“The results confirm that the previous four years of consecutive growth have stalled predominately as a result of the significant impact of the global oil and gas industry slowdown on the north-east of Scotland.”

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He said, with current levels of strong consumer and business confidence, the market was likely to hold “broadly steady” in 2016. The Scottish breakout revealed the share of the market held by private car sales was just under 52 per cent. Fleet sales commanded a 40.9 per cent slice, while business registrations accounted for the remainder.

The latest figures, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showed more than 2.63 million cars were registered in the UK in 2015 – an all-time high. The previous record was set in 2003 at 2.58 million.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said high consumer confidence, wage growth and low-interest finance deals have encouraged motorists to buy new cars.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles grew by 40.3 per cent last year, securing the biggest ever market share of 2.8 per cent. This was led by volumes for plug-in hybrids more than doubling, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50 per cent.

UK-wide, the best selling car of 2015 was the Ford Fiesta while in Scotland the Vauxhall Corsa grabbed top spot.

John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG, said the industry’s record sales figures were a result of consumer confidence being “finally back to pre-financial crisis levels”, the strength of the pound leading to lower prices and the availability of cheap credit.

SCOTLAND’S BEST-SELLING CARS IN 2015

1. Vauxhall Corsa – 11,955

2. Ford Fiesta – 9,956

3. Ford Focus – 6,032

4. Volkswagen Polo – 5,825

5. Vauxhall Mokka – 5,193

6. Volkswagen Golf – 4,766

7. Renault Clio – 4,600

8. Vauxhall Astra – 4,387

9. Fiat 500 – 4,263

10. Dacia Sandero – 4,033