Industry still fearful of future as car sales rise after 13-month fall

New car sales rose by over 7 per cent last month, the first increase since the summer of last year, new figures showed today.

There were 59,346 new car registrations in August, 7.3 per cent more than the same month in 2010, with increased demand from private and fleet buyers.

But despite the increase, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the outlook for the industry remained “challenging.”

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Sales from January to August were down by 6.1 per cent on the previous year, but an August increase followed 13 months of decline. The Supermini segment jumped by 17.6 per cent to account for 37.3 per cent of the August new car market. Around 2,000 more diesel cars were also sold last month than petrol.

Chief executive Paul Everitt said: “August represents a relatively small share of the new car market and the September new 61-plate registrations will be far more important for vehicle manufacturers and franchised dealers.

“The September new car market is always important for the UK motor industry, accounting for around 17 per cent of the full year’s registrations.

“Consumers are nervous about the future, but with industry offering unprecedented improvements in fuel economy, competitive finance offers and a wide variety of new models, buyers will find there is something to suit every taste and pocket.”

The Ford Fiesta was the top-selling new car in August with 3,213 registrations, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa (2,901), the Ford Focus (2,858), the VW Golf (1,995), BMW 3 Series (1,739), Vauxhall Astra (1,613), VW Passat (1,526), VW Polo (1,467), Nissan Qashqai (1,312) and Audi A3 (1,125).

The Ford Fiesta is also the top-selling new car in the year to date (61,551), followed by the Focus (52,918), Corsa (46,620), Golf (39,385), Vauxhall Insignia (31,063), Polo (28,048), 3 Series (27,298), Qashqai (24,695) and Peugeot 207 (21,402).

Sales of new cars in August last year (55,305) were the lowest on record.

The SMMT forecasts that sales for the full year will be around 1.93 million, which will be 5 per cent down on last year, saying that the outlook for the new car market remained challenging given the downgrade in economic growth forecasts.