Motor industry revving up to break records

Marion Dakers

CAR SALES in the UK rose for the 27th consecutive month in May, breaking a record set in the 1980s for the longest ever period of growth.

Motorists registered 194,032 new cars last month, up 7.7 per cent on the same period a year ago, to give the industry its strongest May performance in a decade.

New registrations in the year-to-date are up 11.6 per cent on 2013, as the British car market accelerates further ahead of the rest of Europe.

“The new car market has now grown in every month since March 2012 – the longest period of growth on record and a reflection of the UK’s ever-improving economic con-ditions,” said Mike Hawes, head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which compiled the figures.

“Over the past 27 months, increasingly confident consumers have been drawn to some fantastic new products, attracted by innovative technologies, improved fuel economy and competitive deals helping make a new car more affordable.”

The SMMT stuck to its full-year forecast of six per cent growth, having already upgraded its prediction from the start of the year of a more modest one per cent rise. The market grew 10.8 per cent in 2013.

Barclays’ head of retail, Richard Lowe, said the pace of sales growth could stabilise over the summer months. “If there is a slowdown, all eyes will be on manufacturers and the actions they take to try to drive the market forward,” he added.

Figures from Europe on Tuesday showed that new car sales across the continent were up 5.2 per cent in May as Opel, Peugeot and Citroen offered discounts and subsidies to entice cautious motorists.