Industry bosses have blamed seasonal factors for a reversal in car sales last month but said a shift towards the private buyer was an “encouraging” sign.
Unveiling a 5.8 per cent year-on-year fall in new car registrations north of the Border, the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) pointed to the “volatile nature” of the monthly numbers. However, the downturn compares with a rise UK-wide of 3.2 per cent in July.
Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the SMTA, said: “What has to be factored into the thinking is that these are registration figures and don’t reflect the delay between ordering [sales] and delivery [registration] of products.
“Another seasonal factor is that July is also the first month in the approach towards the next peak point in the new car market with the September plate change.
“What is particularly encouraging in this month’s result is that Scotland’s market is continuing to shift towards the private buyer with fleet business share down almost a full percentage point on July last year.
“This is a trend we have been mapping over the year and it is encouraging to our smaller members, many of whom chose not to compete in the business market.”
According to the latest data, a total of 13,566 vehicles were registered in Scotland last month, compared with 14,403 in July 2014. For a second month the Ford Fiesta was the best seller, ahead of Vauxhall’s Corsa, which has typically topped the charts.
Across the UK, sales increased for the 41st month in a row, with more than 1.5 million registrations so far this year.
A total of 178,420 new cars were sold in July, driven by sales of small family cars and super-mini models.
Registrations have increased by 6.5 per cent so far this year to a record high, but July’s rise was described as “more modest” by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Continued economic confidence, low interest rates and attractive finance deals were behind the healthy figures, the SMMT noted.
Demand for super-minis has grown by 22 per cent over the past decade as people downsize to smaller cars.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While more moderate than in recent months, July’s rise in new car registrations is good news, and indicative of what we expect for the remainder of 2015.
“With demand having reached a record high in the first half of the year, we anticipate more stable growth in the coming months.”