NEW car sales went up for the first time in 15 months in July, as business secretary Lord Mandelson’s “cash for bangers” scheme trickled down to dealers, helping drive up sales by 2.4 per cent year-on-year.<br /><br />The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 157,149 new cars were registered in the UK last month, helped out by an acceleration in vehicle sales to private buyers, which went up 33 per cent.<br /><br />But car sales to businesses and corporate fleets fell, crashing by 16.6 per cent from 95,018 to 79,238 units, as companies are exempt from participating in the so-called scrappage scheme. Under the incentive, motorists can trade in motors older than 10 years and qualify for a £2,000 discount on a brand new model. <br /><br />“The impact of the scrappage scheme is clear and we are encouraged by the positive impact it has had, increasing new car registrations for the first time since April 2008,” SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said.<br /><br />But he steered attention towards progress yet to be made, adding that the industry still faced a long road to recovery.<br /><br />“We urge government to ease access to finance and credit and deliver the loan guarantees set out by the Automotive Assistance Programme,” he said.<br /><br />July’s increased sales figures were still 10.1 per cent below the average for July, taken over the past ten years. <br /><br />And the 318,795 cars which have been sold in the first seven months of the year is 22.8 per cent lower than the same period last year.<br /><br /><strong>US CAR GRANTS</strong><br /><br />THE big three Detroit carmakers, Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler, are set to reap the benefits from a federal grant of $2.4bn, (£1.1bn) which President Obama yesterday announced to encourage the development of “green” cars. Battery makers will receive $1.5bn of the fund, and companies involved in making electronic motors and drive parts will get $500m. $400m will go towards testing a system for recharging electric-powered cars. The money is part of the $787bn economic stimulus which was passed earlier this year. GM was given $105.9m to put towards a factory which will make battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric vehicle. GM’s chief executive Fritz Henderson said a US supply base of batteries “makes sense logistically”.