SALES of new cars in Britain increased by more than 11% last month, providing fresh evidence of the motor industry’s recovery from recession, new figures showed today.
There were 367,929 new car registrations in September, 11.4% more than the same month a year ago, as motorists continued to take advantage of the scrappage scheme, under which they receive a £2,000 discount on vehicles more than 10 years old when they buy a new model.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said today’s figures showed the third monthly increase in a row after a rise of 6% in August and 2.4% in July.
Chief executive Paul Everitt said: "Market conditions remain challenging with demand being underpinned by the extremely successful scrappage incentive scheme.
"The extension of the scheme will help to sustain demand through the latter part of this year and into 2010. This will allow economic recovery to strengthen and safeguard valuable industrial capability."
September is an important month for the car industry, with a new registration plate and sales worth almost a fifth of the annual total.
About 1.5 million new cars have been sold in the year to date, down by 15.5% on the same period last year, the SMMT reported.
Sales of private cars drove last month’s increase, while fleet and business sales were both down. Fleet sales were 13% lower than a year ago and by 25% in the year to date, while business sales were 11% down on the month and 29% on the year to date.
The top 10 best-selling models last month were the Ford Fiesta (22,635 sales), Vauxhall Corsa (16,379), Ford Focus (13,622), Vauxhall Astra (13,190), VW Golf (11,787), Peugeot 207 (9,161), Mini (8,634), BMW 3 Series (7,465), Toyota Yaris (6,896) and BMW 1 Series (6,671).
The Fiesta is the top-selling car in the year to date with sales of 92,580, followed by the Focus (73,864), Corsa (67,955), Astra (49,242) and Golf (43,611).
The SMMT said the car scrappage scheme continued to boost the market. Modest growth of 2.5% had been forecast for September, but the scrappage scheme has been credited with boosting sales in recent months.
The SMMT said last week’s announcement by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson of an extension to the scrappage scheme from £300 million to £400 million was an "extremely important decision" that would give more consumers the chance to buy a new car.
Sales of private cars rose by 41.3% last month and year-to-date volumes are now within 1.9% of last year's level, said the SMMT.
Demand for small cars continued to grow, while alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations rose by 45% in September, due to new models.
The Ford Fiesta has been the top-selling model for seven months in a row.
AA president Edmund King said: "The increase in new car sales is not only beneficial to the economy and employment but will also be a boost to the environment and road safety as the vast majority of cars bought under the scrappage scheme are cleaner, greener and safer than those they have replaced."
RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: "Today’s figures are a welcome sign for manufacturers and motorists alike. The scrappage scheme has clearly had some success in driving sales and its extension will allow another 100,000 motorists the chance to buy a cleaner, safer, more reliable car.
"However, it remains to be seen how the industry will be impacted once the extension to the scheme ends, and when VAT returns to 17.5% in January."