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April car sales down 24%

New car market hoping for scrappage scheme boost

Ford Focus

Ford Focus has overtaken the Fiesta to regain its position as the UK’s bestselling car

Sales of new cars during April have dipped to their lowest levels since April 1991, and are down 24% on April 2008. Total new car sales for the month were 133,475.

According to the latest registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales have fallen across the board.

Only registrations having risen, up by 54% on this time last year – and a clear indicator that car buyers are making more affordable choices during the recession.

Scrappage scheme wait

The announcement of the in the April Budget – whereby owners of cars registered before 31st August 1999 can scrap them and receive £2,000 off a brand-new vehicle – was welcomed by carmakers, and is likely to boost car sales in the coming months.

However, the scrappage scheme doesn’t officially start until May 18, so it’s possible some buyers are holding off on buying a new car until then. Despite this, many carmakers are already promoting scrappage deals – often with discounts totaling much more than £2,000.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive said: ‘Despite the tough conditions, industry is hopeful that its prospects will improve in the coming months and the steps it has taken will provide the basis for a sustained recovery once growth returns.’

Bestselling Ford Focus

The regained its often-held crown of the UK’s bestseller in April, shifting 8,874 units during the month, ahead of the ’s 8,395. The Fiesta supermini has the highest sales so far this year, though, totalling 41,142.

Sales of diesel cars slipped for the second time this year, although diesels still accounted for 44.2% of new cars sold in the first four months of 2009 – versus 42.7% in the same period last year.

Richard Headland, Which? motoring editor, said: ‘The car industry continues to struggle in the downturn. Larger cars are still selling slowly as consumers turn their attention to smaller, cheaper models – creating waiting lists for popular superminis.

‘The industry has its hoped pinned on the scrappage incentive – similar schemes have significantly boosted car sales in other countries. The May and June sales figures should show whether this will be enough to get car buyers back into showrooms.’


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