SCOTLAND’S car dealers were left in the slow lane last month as they suffered a fall in sales while UK-wide registrations motored ahead.
Industry bosses expressed their disappointment after fresh data yesterday revealed a year-on-year fall of 1.2 per cent in sales of new cars north of the Border.
A total of 12,528 vehicles were registered by Scottish dealerships during January, according to the latest figures from trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
However, across the UK as a whole, there was a 6.7 per cent rise to 164,856 cars last month, continuing the strong trend reported throughout 2014.
Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, which represents dealers north of the Border, said: “We are just a little bit disappointed at this small drop after the record year of 2014.
“However, it does confirm our prediction a few months ago that the market would settle down during 2015 without any great increases or decreases over the course of the year.
“Perhaps this slight drop reflects the fact that retail consumers purchases of new cars has fallen to below 50 per cent for the first time for many, many months. That, in itself, might reflect a touch of overspending during the festivities.”
The increase in UK sales marks the 35th successive month of growth, with last month’s figures boosted by an 18.1 per cent increase in fleet registrations. It was also the strongest January for sales since 2007.
A total of more than 2.47 million new cars were sold across the UK in 2014 – the highest annual figure for ten years and the fourth-highest ever.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “These figures mark an encouraging start to the year after a very strong 2014, with a strikingly robust company car market as businesses take advantage of the attractive finance offers currently available.
“Last year’s 9.3 per cent rise in the overall market was fuelled by stronger-than-expected economic confidence and, for 2015, we expect to see some levelling off throughout the year. Demand is back to pre-recession levels following record-breaking growth.”
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at forecasting group IHS Global Insight, added: “The economic fundamentals still look largely healthy for the motor industry which will hopefully allow car sales to at least be sustained at a robust level in 2015. Private car sales should be supported by markedly improving real earnings growth, rising employment and elevated confidence.”
Vauxhall’s Corsa supermini was once again the best-selling model in Scotland while the Ford Fiesta topped the UK rankings.