NEW car sales in Scotland hit a record high last month thanks to recovering consumer confidence and attractive finance deals, according to new figures from the Scottish Motor Trade Association.
Total new registrations increased by 14.8 per cent on last March to 43,724, topping the previous record of 40,954, set ten years ago.
However, Scotland’s rise lagged behind the whole of the UK, where registrations were up by 17.7 per cent to 464,824.
March is traditionally the biggest new car sales month because of the number plate change, and accounts for nearly one in five annual registrations.
In Scotland, the Vauxhall Corsa was the best-selling new car, with 2,538 sold in March, followed by the Ford Fiesta with 2,301 and Ford Focus with 1,583.
The Corsa is number three behind the Ford models across the UK.
Vauxhall also dominated the market in Scotland overall, with 13 per cent of new registrations, followed by Ford with 12 per cent and Volkswagen with 8 per cent.
SMTA chief executive Douglas Robertson said: “We believe these figures confirm consumers’ awareness of the extremely attractive finance deals now available and the immensely attractive range of new cars now on the market.
“As we have said before, the cost of running a new car is often less than that of running an older car and, as confidence returns, consumers are becoming more aware of this.
“Whilst we do expect a positive market for the remainder of the year, we would hesitate to project a continuation of the 12.09 per cent increase we have seen in the first quarter.”
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which represents the UK industry, attributed the sales hike to “a surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products”.
Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Given the past six years of subdued economic performance across the UK, there is still a substantial margin of pent-up demand that is contributing to a strong new and used car market.
“We expect the market to continue to perform positively for the rest of the year, albeit at a more modest rate.”
The Aberdeen-based John Clark Motor Group, which includes VW, Land Rover and Jaguar dealers, said: “The success of the 14-plate has exceeded all expectations.”
Chairman John Clark said: “Increased consumer confidence is without doubt one of the key drivers behind this success story, as are the myriad of low rate finance offers available.
“We have seen record levels of both new and used unit sales over this same period, with all of our brands and locations performing well ahead of the industry averages.”