Car dealers upbeat as registrations remain slow

Sales of new cars in Scotland continue to lag the rest of the UK but industry bosses remain upbeat as the latest plate change kicks in.
The Vauxhall Mokka was particularly popular with Scottish buyers. Picture: ContributedThe Vauxhall Mokka was particularly popular with Scottish buyers. Picture: Contributed
The Vauxhall Mokka was particularly popular with Scottish buyers. Picture: Contributed

Figures yesterday revealed that car registrations north of the Border rose by just under 3.7 per cent last month compared to a year ago. Across the UK, the August increase was 9.6 per cent as low-cost finance deals helped drive business.

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) described the improvement in sales as “small but welcome” with the percentage increase equating to an additional 237 cars being registered across Scotland, with all territories showing growth.

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Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the SMTA, said, “These results maintains Scotland’s year-on-year growth at 1.12 per cent which, whilst being significantly behind the rest of the UK, it is a testimony to our dealers who have been very active in creating strong incentives to entice buyers into their showrooms.

“As the first of the 65-plate cars are hitting the roads across the country there is a renewed vibrancy in dealer promotions. I would expect this will create the platform for a strong September performance and month end result.”

The latest figures mean that, UK-wide, car sales have increased for the 42nd month in a row, with more than 1.6 million registrations so far this year – up 6.7 per cent on the same period in 2014.

Gains were made across all sectors last month compared to August 2014, with registrations up in the private (7.2 per cent), business (12.1 per cent) and fleet markets (11.8 per cent), according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The popularity of alternatively-fuelled vehicles grew 52.3 per cent year-on-year, maintaining a steady 2.4 per cent share of the overall market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “August’s strong performance has again been driven by attractive finance deals and a diverse range of technologically advanced models.

“Britain’s budget-conscious buyers are taking advantage of low regular monthly payments that provide certainty and affordability.

“With September’s new 65-plate now in full swing, we expect UK showrooms to be as busy as ever.”

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David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at accountancy giant Deloitte, said: “In a traditionally quiet month, the growth achieved in August is ahead of expectations. Indeed, August registrations have now exceeded the levels achieved in 2007.

“Turning to the September numbers… expectations are high that the number of deals on offer will positively influence the retail market. However, with signs of growth slowing in both the service and manufacturing sectors, last year’s September numbers will be a hard target to beat.”