Pace of growth in UK car sales begins to slow

Marion Dakers
CAR SALES rose for the 20th month in a row in October, though the pace of growth slowed to four per cent compared to last year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said British buyers registered 157,314 new cars last month, as the new number plates launched in September continued to motor out of the showrooms.

New car sales are up 10.2 per cent in the year to date to 1.95m units, and the trade body yesterday hiked its full-year forecast from 2.22m to 2.25m.

“These sustained rises have been driven by robust private demand, a trend that has given us the confidence to raise our year-end forecast,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT. “Looking ahead, we anticipate more moderate growth as the market stabilises.”

The SMMT expects annual sales to rise just one per cent in 2014 and 2015, leaving the number of new cars sold below the peak of 2.4m seen in 2007.

John Leech, head of UK automotive at KPMG, was upbeat about the figures. “This slower pace of growth seems much more sustainable especially considering the potential impact the huge growth rates in new car registrations might have on used car prices,” he said.

The UK car market has defied the prolonged slump across the rest of Europe, where sales in the year to date are four per cent below 2012.