Leap in UK car sales defies European slump

A rise of almost 15% in UK car sales last month has reignited hopes that Britain’s car industry is weathering the economic crisis better than its European counterparts. 


The latest figures from the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that UK car sales rose by 14.8% in April in a year-on-year comparison, buoyed by a staggering 32% increase in private sales across the year.


In the first four months of the year alone, new car registrations grew by 8.9% to 768,555 units, helping the UK to outperform the EU27.


Britons have been attracted by bargain deals on new cars, as well as attractive financing packages. Some motorists have also been prompted to buy more fuel efficient cars because of high petrol prices.


The figures revealed that a total of 163,357 new car registrations were made in April, with diesel cars making up the largest share of this figure (82,092), followed by              petrol cars (79,407).


Commenting on the figures, MMT Interim Chief Executive, Mike Baunton, said: “The UK continues to perform well ahead of the troubled Eurozone as consumer confidence, regular purchase cycles, attractive finance deals and wider market factors continue to make new car buying favourable for motorists.”


Despite the positive data, Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight argued that the UK’s car market could still face challenging conditions:


"A serious concern for the industry is that consumers could rein in their spending on big-ticket items over the coming months as their purchasing power is squeezed by higher consumer price inflation and muted wage growth.


"There have also been recent signs that employment is stuttering after growing markedly through 2012."


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