Official figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that new car registrations in December 2009 rose by 38.9% compared with the same period in 2008.
This makes it the third best December on record, and the best since 2005.
However, it is not an entirely rosy picture, as full-year registrations are down 6.4% to 1,994,999 units – the lowest figure since 1995.
As with November the SMMT confirms that recent sales increases have been boosted by both the scrappage scheme and buyers rushing to avoid January’s VAT increase from 15% to 17.5%.
The SMMT supplied graphic shows just how much the Government’s scrappage scheme has stimulated the market since it’s introduced in May. Sales in the second half of the year were up 21% on 2008. December followed this trend, with scrappage accounting for an estimated 20.8% of sales.
Private sales up, business sales down
Looking further into the figures, sales to private individuals actually increased 13.7% in 2009 compared to 2008. The year-on-year overall deficit has been caused by a reduction in fleet and business sales, down 20.5% and 24.2%, respectively.
Diesel has also suffered more than petrol, the former down 10.4%, the latter 3.4%.
Ford Fiesta tops sales charts
The Ford Fiesta is the UK’s bestseller – both in December and 2009 overall, with 117,296 Fiestas sold altogether.
This places it ahead of the Ford Focus (93,517) and the Vauxhall Corsa (84,478) – though the Vauxhall Astra secured third position in December, due to the introduction of the new Astra and knockdown prices on the old.
Despite the positive year-end news, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee a similar story in 2010.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive: ‘Another tough year awaits the UK motor industry in 2010, with new car registrations expected to be below 2009 levels and only limited recovery in the van and heavy commercial vehicle markets.
‘Sustaining the progress made in the latter part of 2009 will require stronger demand from fleet and business buyers, alongside the greater availability and affordability of credit and finance.’
Which? Car editor Richard Headland said: ‘It’s remarkable so many new cars were sold in 2009, especially given the very poor start to the year. However, the scrappage scheme’s days are numbered, and new car buyers must watch out for rising car prices in 2010. Consumers, and dealers, will have to haggle hard.’
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