UK car sales hit 10-year high in 2014: High consumer confidence and boost to industry

Chris Papadopoullos
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“These figures are great news for the UK automotive industry”

The number of new cars sold in the UK reached a 10-year high in 2014, new figures show.

Over the whole of last year 2,476,435 new cars were registered, according to figures released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It was the fourth-best year of all time regarding the number of sales – only 2002, 2003 and 2004 saw more. It marks a 9.3 per cent increase on the amount of cars sold in 2013 when 2,264,737 new cars were sold.
A surge was also seen in the number of electric cars sold, which rose 14,498 in 2014 from 2013’s 3,586.
Sales could be boosted further by cheaper oil.
“Falling oil prices is too recent a phenomenon, I don’t think they’ve had a big impact at this stage,” Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told City A.M.
“People would need to be convinced that those low oil prices are going to stick for a period of time and there’s too much speculation around at the moment.” Harrold explains that financing options have helped.
Firms in Europe have been unable to cut capacity due to strict labour laws, so instead they have put together attractive finance plans to shift vehicles.
As well as showing that consumer confidence and economic conditions were improving, the figures are good for industry.
“These figures are great news for the UK automotive industry,” Harrold said.
“Not only are three of the top 10 selling cars of 2014 are made in the UK, the engines of the top two are also manufactured here.”
Some analysts expect a slowdown in sales in 2015.
“This growth has been fuelled principally by cheap loans and strengthening consumer confidence,” said John Leech, the head of automotive for consultants KPMG.
“Recently, sterling has been appreciating against the Euro which should see new car prices fall in early 2015 and I expect the demand for mass-market new cars to plateau into 2015.”


1Ford Fiesta131,254
2Ford Focus85,140
3Vauxhall Corsa81,783
4Volkswagen Golf73,880
5Vauxhall Astra59,689


The Ford Fiesta was the best selling car of 2014 – but the US giant is still making considerable losses in Europe. The firm is braced for another loss of $1bn (£662m) or more in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), adding to mounting losses in recent years.
High-end car producer Bentley saw its annual sales climb by nine per cent in 2014 to 11,020. The US is the Crewe-based manufacturer’s largest buyer, with 3,186 sales, an increase of 28 per cent on 2013. China was the second biggest market. Sales to China rose by 22 per cent to 2,191 after they dipped in 2013. The company expects strong demand for its upcoming sports utility vehicle (SUV), which will hit the roads this year.

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