Scottish car sales return to growth in June

New car registrations accelerated in Scotland last month, having shifted into reverse gear in May, as sales across the UK hit a record high.

Latest figures from the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) show that 21,576 vehicles were sold in June, a surge of more than 12 per cent on a year ago, with Ford’s Fiesta topping the tables on both sides of the Border.

SMTA boss Sandy Burgess said: “The market appears to be shifting towards smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, with the top ten slots being dominated by smaller cars, which in turn account for the majority of the growth seen in these latest results.”

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The strong reading for June came after an 8.1 per cent year-on-year decrease for new car sales the previous month, although industry bosses had pointed out that May 2014 had been a record performance for that month.

For the UK as a whole, registrations in the first six months of the year rose 7 per cent to 1,376,889 – the highest half-year performance on record.

June marked a record 40th consecutive month of growth, with registrations up 12.9 per cent on last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), which attributed the strong growth to low interest rates and attractive finance deals.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “It is still a great time to buy a new car in the UK, and it is encouraging to see more consumers choosing British models. This is important for the wider economy with 799,000 people now employed across the UK automotive sector, including retail. We anticipate a flatter second half of the year as the market finds its natural running rate.”

That view was echoed by IHS Global Insight’s chief UK and European economist, Howard Archer, who said: “It seems unrealistic to expect car sales to keep churning out strong growth rates through the rest of the year given that they are now at such an elevated level.”