Car sales boom above forecast in September

Ben Southwood
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CAR SALES exceeded expectations in crucial numberplate changeover month September, data from an industry body revealed yesterday.

Car registrations were up 8.2 per cent compared to last year, hitting 359,612, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said, with analysts calling the boost “fantastic” for the car industry.

This latest boost meant that 67,515 – 4.3 per cent – more cars have been sold in 2012 so far, than were sold in the same three quarters of 2011.

“The important September plate change market outperformed expectations,” said SMMT boss Paul Everitt, “Although the economic outlook remains challenging, we are starting to see a tentative return of consumer confidence as motorists explore new products and the latest fuel-efficient technologies.”

More fuel-efficient cars were certainly popular, driving the average new car emissions down 3.4 per cent, from 138.7g carbon dioxide emitted per kilometre to 133.4g.

But the rise in registrations came mainly from traditional petrol and diesel cars – sales of vehicles powered by alternative fuels slipped 2.2 per cent over the year.

David Raistrick, UK manufacturing boss at Deloitte, noted that the European car market was crashing while the UK's expanded.

“A review of numbers for...Europe indicate registrations are massively lower than last year – and some countries are definitely... in freefall,” Raistrick said.

Raistrick warned that the boom was not necessarily sustainable, predicting the coming 12 months would be “fairly bleak” unless manufacturers cut into their margins and made “extremely attractive deals.”

September’s most popular models were in line with the UK’s favourites so far in 2012: Ford’s Fiesta in first, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, with the Ford Focus placed third.