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Car sales ‘better than expected’ in December

But 2008 sees lowest number of sales since 1996

Car sales fell again in December

Car sales fell again in December

Car sales fell again in December, official figures show – but not by as much as expected. 

The 21.2% drop marks the eighth consecutive month of declining car sales, and makes 2008 the worst year for new car registrations since 1996.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which had predicted declines of up to 35% in December, said last month’s VAT cut may have helped sales rally slightly.

But SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: ‘The measures taken by government to support the banking sector and kick-start demand have been necessary, but are not yet sufficient to restore confidence.’

Record diesel sales

Actual diesel car sales fell for the first time since 1999. But diesels, which generally offer better fuel economy than petrol models, made up a record share of 2008’s new-car market.

Some 43.6% of all new cars sold last year were diesels – more than three times the amount recorded in 2000. It is thought drivers are increasingly choosing diesels because of their greatly improved performance and the promise of cheaper running costs over the long term.

The SMMT figures also show that the average CO2 emissions of new cars fell by a record 4.2% in 2008, to an average of 158g/km. This represents a reduction of 16.8% since 1997, and shows drivers are increasingly looking for . 

To see how much you could save by swapping cars, check out our petrol v diesel calculator, these and our guide to the new car tax system.

In 2008 (and for the tenth consecutive year) the was the top-selling car.


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