Car sales accelerate in November, says trade body

Ford's Fiesta topped the UK sales charts last month. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Ford's Fiesta topped the UK sales charts last month. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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New car sales grew by 2.9 per cent in November compared with the same month last year, according to the latest industry figures.

Some 184,101 cars were registered last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) said today.

Growth was driven by the business and fleet sectors, which saw rises of 24.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively, but private registrations fell by 1.2 per cent.

More than 2.5 million cars have been registered in 2016 so far – up 2.5 per cent on the same period last year and the first time that this milestone has been reached in November.

Last month’s best-selling car across the UK was the Ford Fiesta, with 8,382 registered, followed by the Vauxhall Astra at 4,829.

IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said the industry’s gains were “praiseworthy as year-on-year growth in car sales is becoming ever harder to achieve as they are coming from a high base following extended healthy gains”.

But he added: “The serious concern for the car sector going forward is that it looks inevitable that the fundamentals for consumers will progressively and markedly weaken over the coming months, with inflation rising appreciably due to the weakened pound and companies likely increasingly looking to hold down pay to limit their total costs in a challenging environment.”

Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles increased by 25.1 per cent last month, with its market share rising from 3 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

READ MORE: Will electric cars catch on in Scotland?

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Our industry continues to make vehicles that are ever safer, more refined, more efficient and more enjoyable to drive – and the latest advanced technology and cutting-edge designs are continuing to attract buyers into showrooms.

“It’s encouraging to see that alternatively fuelled vehicles, although still a small proportion of the market, have seen strong growth this month achieving a record market share. Long-term government support and incentives are essential if these vehicles are to command a larger market share in the future.”

Year-to-date Volkswagen car sales are down 8.6 per cent compared with the same point in 2015. But the brand’s November registrations were up 10.8 per cent on the same month last year.

Volkswagen Group admitted last year that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with “defeat device” software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they were being tested for emissions.

The German company announced that 11 million vehicles were affected worldwide – including almost 1.2 million in the UK.

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