SCOTTISH car dealers are cruising towards a bumper year for sales after a sharp acceleration in new registrations last month.
Industry leaders hailed a “significant” rise in lucrative business and fleet sales in September as private buyers also made a beeline for the showroom.
The attraction of the 63-plate change boosted trade, pushing new car sales up 13.9 per cent, year-on-year, north of the Border. It follows August’s “disappointing” rise of just 4 per cent.
Across the UK as a whole, registrations last month were 12.1 per cent higher year-on-year.
More new vehicles were sold than in any month since March 2008, providing further evidence of a recovery in consumer confidence.
Douglas Robertson, chief executive of industry body the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA), said: “These figures show a significant increase in business and fleet sales during the month of September.
“This is good news for the retail motor trade and SMTA member dealers in Scotland. We are optimistic that we will exceed recent revised expectations by the end of the year of 190,000 units.”
There were 41,367 new cars registered in Scotland last month, with the UK total hitting 403,136.
Private sales have increased by 16.7 per cent over the year to date, while more than one in seven cars registered in September was built in the UK, according to yesterday’s data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With over 400,000 new cars registered for the first time in more than five years, the UK market is reflecting growing economic confidence. Robust private demand has played a major role in this growth with customers attracted by exciting increasingly fuel-efficient new models that offer savings in the cost of ownership.”
He added: “This is the 19th consecutive month of steady growth and, with fleet and business demand still to reach pre-recession levels, we believe the performance to be sustainable.
“The latest 63-plate should deliver positive results into next year.”
The figures revealed the Vauxhall Corsa as the best seller in Scotland last month, while Ford’s revamped Fiesta hit top spot for the UK.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, the forecasting consultancy, described the sales figures as “very strong” in a key month for the industry – the other being March when the first plate change of the year takes place.
“Car sales have been robust through 2013, which is in marked contrast to the weakness seen across most of Europe,” noted Archer.
“Private new car sales are particularly healthy fuelled by sharply improved consumer confidence and record high employment, and benefiting from attractive offers and packages, as well as by motorists’ desire to buy more fuel efficient cars.
“The motor industry will be hoping that the recent improvement in UK economic activity is sustained and extended.”