Scotland’s car dealers have enjoyed a strong start to the year, with figures showing sales north of the Border outpaced the UK as a whole last month.
The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) said a total of 11,630 new cars were registered during January, representing an increase of 12.4 per cent over the same month last year.
In contrast, total UK sales grew 11.5 per cent to 143,643, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), which raised its forecasts for the coming years after 2012’s forecast-beating sales.
SMTA chief executive Douglas Robertson said: “We are pleased at the continued increase in new car sales following reasonably good sales in 2012.
“Consumer demand for purchasing new cost-effective cars remains strong and, with a vast range of models to choose from in our members’ forecourts and showrooms, we hope to see this demand continuing.”
Ford topped the best-seller lists for Scotland and the rest of the UK, with its Fiesta and Focus models taking first and second place respectively. Vauxhall’s Corsa was ranked third north of the Border, but was bumped into fourth place in the UK sales tables by its larger stablemate, the Astra.
At the other end of the market, three new Maseratis were registered in Scotland during January, along with two Rolls-Royces and one Ferrari.
The good start to the year was mainly fuelled by a near-16 per cent increase in private sales, while there was a rise of nearly 8 per cent in sales of alternatively-fuelled cars.
SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said: “The new car market has started the year confidently. Lifted by a solid rise in private demand, the market posted its 11th successive month of growth with motorists attracted to forecourts by the latest models and competitive deals on offer.”
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “Despite January’s encouraging start to 2013 after a resilient performance in 2012, the motor industry currently faces far-from-easy conditions.”
He said consumer spending was being squeezed by rising inflation, while traders and manufacturers would be concerned by the prospect of businesses and fleet operators delaying the replacement of vehicles in a bid to keep costs under control.
However, the SMMT yesterday raised its market forecasts following a better-than-expected performance during 2012, which saw sales break through the two million barrier to hit the highest level since 2008.
The trade body expects sales to grow by 0.6 per cent this year, before accelerating by 2.6 per cent in 2014, when registrations are predicted to top 2.1 million.
l Swedish truck maker Volvo saw its fourth-quarter profits plunge more than 80 per cent to 793 million kronor (£79.8m) amid weakening demand in key markets.
Volvo sold its car division in 1999 to Ford, which in turn sold it to China’s Geely in 2010. Geely last week bought Manganese Bronze for £11m, saving more than 100 jobs.
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