Car sales increased again last month, fuelling beliefs that the economy is back on track following recession.
New vehicle sales increased almost 15 per cent in April compared to the same time last year; the strongest sales growth in 14 months, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT).
2013 year-to-date new car sales have increased 8.9 per cent on 2012, in contrast to the rest of the European Union where sales have been declining since early 2010. The SMMT has raised its full-year forecast to 2.1m car sales this year, a 3 per cent increase on 2012.
This is particularly good news for the government’s austerity campaign; car sales are a useful indication of the health of the overall economy and Britain is clearly on track for further growth. The car industry also currently accounts for almost 750,000 jobs and a tenth of total exports in the UK.
Of the 163,357 vehicles registered in April, 81,753 were private sales and 75,067 were fleet sales. Popularity seems to be for small, economical cars, with the Ford Fiesta selling 8,083 units, Vauxhall Corsa (6,084), Ford Focus (5,944) and the Volkswagen Golf (5,283).
Mike Baunton, interim chief executive of the SMMT, said the UK car market is performing “surprisingly strongly” when compared with the rest of the European Union. Last year the UK became the second largest car market in the EU, behind Germany.
“While the headline increase was up almost 15 per cent there were more sales days this year than last,” said Baunton.
“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.”
Petrol cars increased at double the rate of diesels, while sales of alternative fuel cars were up marginally at one per cent.
The market is still falling behind peak pre-recession levels, with forecasted total 2013 sales likely to be around 300,000 units short. However this is clearly positive news, with many consumers confident that now is the right time to trade-in their vehicles for a newer model.