New car sales boost offers relief from Euro slump

6 March 2013
By Edward Gent
Mobile version
Share |
New car sales last month were the highest since the end of the Government's car scrappage scheme inb 2010

New car sales last month were the highest since the end of the Government's car scrappage scheme inb 2010

New car sales accelerated ahead last month, boosted by an increase in private purchases, according to official figures.

Research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed there were 66,749 new registrations in the UK in February – a 7.9 per cent increase on the February 2012 figure.

The figures took the year-so-far total to 210,392 – a 10.3 per cent increase on the figure for the first two months of 2012 – with the growth in private sales last month the highest since the end of the government's car scrappage scheme in spring 2010.

SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said: "UK new car registrations have risen every month for the last year with February continuing the trend.

"However, February is traditionally a low-volume month as motorists look forward to the plate change in March, but attractive new car deals are sustaining the market.

"New models are delivering ever greater fuel efficiency, practicality, refinement, technology and predictable ownership costs, so motorists are seeing the benefit of new car purchases."

The best-selling models in February were:

1. Ford Focus

2. Ford Fiesta

3. Vauxhall Corsa

4. Volkswagen Golf

5. Vauxhall Astra

6. Nissan Qashqai

7. Volkswagen Polo

8. Peugeot 208

9. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

10. Nissan Juke

The news will come as welcome relief to car makers dealing with an unprecedented slump in car sales across Europe – with car registrations approaching a 20-year low.

And the Geneva car show  appears to be presenting another relative bright spot to beleaguered mass-market carmakers – the mini-SUV – with PSA Peugeot Citroen, Ford and Renault all revealing new subcompact crossovers on Tuesday, with Fiat and others close on their heels.

Despite austerity and unemployment city dwellers are queuing to pay a €3,000 premium for a slightly higher-riding runaround.

"It's not very rational," said Francois Bancon, the Nissan upstream development chief behind the best-selling Juke. "But we're not complaining."

The Japanese automaker, which unleashed the Juke's muscle-bound physique upon the world in 2010 and logged more than 97,000 European sales in each of the next two years, is soon to be upstaged by French parent Renault.

The curvaceous Captur, a Renault Clio hatchback with more body, and Peugeot's more obviously named 208 derivative, the 2008, will bump the Juke down to number 3 in the category next year, according to forecasting house IHS Automotive.

Overall, cash-strapped Europeans will snap up nearly 290,000 mini-SUVs this year, IHS Automotive's projections suggest – an 88 per cent advance on last year's total and triple the number sold in 2009, the year before the Juke's arrival.

All of this is welcome news for Peugeot, Renault, Ford, Fiat and General Motors' Opel brand as they struggle to halt regional losses and declining market shares.

"They can underpin these vehicles with the same architectures they have in the hatches and charge a damn sight more, just because customers want something a bit different," IHS senior analyst Ian Fletcher said.

The surge comes at the expense of other small-car versions, with traditional hatchback sales in 2013 expected to drop by a third from their 2009 level, but the price mark-up makes it a clear net win.

While the 2008's production costs are close to those of the 208 it is based on, Peugeot's crossover SUV starts at about €15,000, compared with €12,000 for the hatchback.

The Ford Ecosport and Fiat 500X are both due later in 2013, as the Italian car maker's chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, bets on variants of the retro-styled 500 model to make up for drooping sales of the ageing Punto hatchback.

Besides the Juke, the new models join Opel's Mokka, launched in Europe last year and designed from the same GM platform as the Chevrolet Trax, also about to go on sale.

London-based UBS analyst Philippe Houchois says that car-buying customers gain clear benefits for their extra outlay.

"People the world over seem to like a higher driving position," he said.

The front-wheel-drive powertrains that the new vehicles share with ordinary minis enable them to combine 4x4 roominess with small-engine fuel efficiency, he added.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Design Delivery Leader, Palace of Westminster Restoration & Renewal (R&R) - Engineering Lead

    House of Commons
    • City of Westminster, London (Greater)
    • Circa £65,000 (There may be more for an exceptional candidate)

    You will lead on a number of engineering infrastructure and associated workstreams under direction from the Deputy Director

    • Recruiter: House of Commons

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Engineer, Network Equipment

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • £49-58k per annum, dependent on experience

    Manage issues and working groups relating to all types of equipment and assets used on the UK Transmission and Distribution Networks.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Programme Manager, Network Resilience

    Energy Networks Association
    • Westminster
    • Competitive salary, dependent on experience

    Co-ordinate the network resilience, emergency planning and the Single Electricity Number (SEN) work in the ENA Engineering team.

    • Recruiter: Energy Networks Association

    Apply for this job

  • Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) of Smart Building Solutions

    Premium job

    ETH Zurich
    • Zurich, Canton of Zürich (CH)

    The successful candidate is expected to develop a strong and visible research programme in the area of control and diagnostics of building systems

    • Recruiter: ETH Zurich

    Apply for this job

  • Process Controls Leader

    Premium job

    Phillips 66
    • Humber Refinery, South Killingholme, North Lincolnshire DN40 3DW
    • £60k - 75k plus extensive Compensation and benefits package, dependent upon experience

    Experienced Process Control Leader providing leadership and technical support for Oil Refinery. Extensive Compensation and benefits package.

    • Recruiter: Phillips 66

    Apply for this job

  • Regional Technical Support Manager

    Premium job

    • Warwick, Warwickshire

    You will be required to lead the regional Customer Services strategy and resources to maximise Customer satisfaction.

    • Recruiter: Siemens

    Apply for this job

  • Digital Forensic Specialist (Audio)

    Met Police
    • London
    • Circa £37,305 plus £3,406 location allowance

    You’ll contribute to a wide range of research and development activities.

    • Recruiter: Met Police

    Apply for this job

  • Marine Engineering Technician (Electrical)

    Port of London Authority
    • Gravesend, Kent
    • £34,318 per annum (inclusive of allowances)

    The successful candidate will be responsible for undertaking maintenance of machinery and hull systems in a fleet of small commercial craft

    • Recruiter: Port of London Authority

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Systems Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • Weymouth, England, Dorset / Frimley, England, Surrey
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to be involved in designing, developing, and delivering cutting edge combat systems for the world's most advanced military submarines? BAE Systems is recruiting Principal Systems Engineers

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Communications Engineer

    BAE Systems
    • England, Hampshire, Portsmouth
    • Negotiable

    Communications Engineer Would you like to play a key role supporting the UK's Maritime Communications Infrastructure? We currently have a vacancy for a Communications Engineer at our site in Portsmouth. As a Communications Engineer, you will be carrying o

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T