January car sales motor to highest level for 12 years

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New car sales reached a 12-year high in January, according to the latest industry figures.

Almost 175,000 cars were registered in the UK last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) said. That was up 2.9 per cent year-on-year and is the highest figure for the month since 2005.

Ford's Fiesta was the best-selling model last month. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ford's Fiesta was the best-selling model last month. Picture: Ian Georgeson

In Scotland, new registrations rose 0.5 per cent to 12,842. Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said: “After the strong growth experienced in 2016, with the uncertainty in the market place it is considered that some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the industry is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges.”

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Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “January’s increase in new car sales is highly welcome, but the strong suspicion remains that 2017 will be a significantly more difficult year for car sales.

“Consumers seem certain to find their purchasing power being increasingly diluted during 2017. Furthermore, a likely weakening economy and more uncertain outlook may well make businesses more circumspect in their car purchases – perhaps taking longer to replace fleets.”

The market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges

Mike Hawes

Ford’s Fiesta topped the UK sales charts last month, while the Vauxhall Astra was the best seller north of the Border.

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SMMT data showed that diesel registrations were down 4.3 per cent but demand for petrol cars increased by 8.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, the alternatively fuelled vehicle segment grew 19.9 per cent to take a record 4.2 per cent share of the market.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “2017 got off to a good start in the new car market, buoyed by a great range of new models which are safer and cleaner than ever before.

“It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share.”

Scottish top ten in full

424 Vauxhall Astra

413 Ford Fiesta

393 Ford Focus

389 Dacia Sandero

319 Vauxhall Corsa

290 Fiat 500

288 Volkswagen Polo

265 Volkswagen Golf

236 Mercedes-Benz C Class

210 Vauxhall Mokka X

UK top ten in full

8,495 Ford Fiesta

5,455 Volkswagen Golf

4,796 Ford Focus

4,230 Mercedes-Benz C Class

4,065 Vauxhall Astra

3,929 Nissan Juke

3,898 Vauxhall Corsa

3.500 Nissan Qashqai

3,118 Audi A3

3,066 Kia Sportage

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