New car sales soared in November

New car sales soared last month as consumers took advantage of the Government's car scrappage scheme.

A total of 158,082 new vehicles were registered in November 2009 - a 57.6 per cent increase on the November 2008 figure, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

The "cash for bangers" scrappage scheme accounted for 21.6 per cent of all new sales last month.

The November figures took sales for the first 11 months of the year to more than 1.84 million, but this is still 8.8 per cent down on the January-November 2008 total. The SMMT now expects the full 2009 sales total to be just above 1.95 million. The 2008 total was 2.13 million.

Last month's figures look particularly good as the November 2008 total showed the deepest monthly decline in the 15-month run of falls in sales - a sequence that finally ended in July this year.

Last month's sales were on a par with those of November 2007.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said today: "The increase in new car registrations in November reflects the positive impact of the scrappage scheme, customers avoiding the VAT increase in January and the very difficult conditions we experienced a year ago.

"We are urging the Government to use its pre-Budget report to sustain the recovery and generate business confidence by stimulating demand in key parts of the new vehicle market."

Sales to private buyers rocketed 141.2 per cent last month. Overall, total sales have risen 11.2 per cent over the past five months. But the SMMT warned today the outlook for 2010 was uncertain, with the scrappage scheme ending soon, VAT returning to 17.5 per cent in January and the new first-year road tax rates coming into effect in April.

These were the best-selling models in November 2009:
1. Ford Fiesta
2. Ford Focus
3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Vauxhall Astra
5. BMW 3 Series
6. Peugeot 207
7. Renault Clio
8. Volkswagen Golf
9. Nissan Qashqai
10. Mini.

RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: "These figures are a welcome boost for the industry as we head towards Christmas. The 57 per cent increase should be put into context, though, given the dire state of the market this time last year.

"The scrappage scheme continues to have a positive effect, with consumers looking to grab a discount before the scheme ends and VAT returns to 17.5 per cent. We are still concerned about what will happen once the scheme ends and the discount bubble bursts."

David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at professional services company Deloitte, said: "We may see interest rates increase next year. Furthermore, car manufacturers may find themselves needing to implement price rises due to the low value of sterling increasing the cost of imported cars and parts.

"The automotive sector must be prepared to deal with these challenges in order to ensure a long-lasting recovery."

A Business Department spokesman said: "Today's figures are good news for the industry. We are pleased that the Government's scrappage scheme has contributed 21.6 per cent of all new sales in November and is continuing to provide the boost it was designed to deliver.

"Earlier last month a £100 million addition to the scheme was approved by Parliament. Alongside the new changes to the scheme, this will extend the positive impacts on the automotive sector and wider manufacturing into next year."

AA president Edmund King said: "These figures are very encouraging although there are many potential pit-falls for sales in the new year.

"A recent AA/Populus poll of 13,489 members showed that 32 per cent would purchase a more fuel-efficient car and that seems to have been reflected in the 21 per cent of sales from the scrappage scheme.

"We are delighted that the scrappage scheme has allowed many thousands of motorists to buy a brand new car for the first time. These cars are cleaner, greener and safer. Our recent poll also suggested that 13 per cent of drivers would definitely consider buying a new car if the scrappage scheme is further extended."

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