Car sales rocket up in booming October market

Ben Southwood
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NEW CAR registrations defied European gloom to soar upwards in October, data showed yesterday, adding to the picture of strength in the 2012 UK market.

Consumers registered some 151,252 cars in October, an automobile industry body said, up 12.1 per cent on that month in 2011. This latest rise means total sales so far in 2012 are 1,771,861, five per cent – or 83,823 – up on the same ten months of 2011.

“Despite uncertainty in the European economy the UK new car market continues to grow,” said Paul Everitt at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which compiled the data.

The rise was even more impressive in private sales, which exploded 23.9 per cent compared to the previous October – whereas fleet sales climbed 4.5 per cent and business sales fell 3.3 per cent to total just 5,501.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles enjoyed a dramatic rise, shooting up 38.8 per cent over the year to hit an all-time high – defying the green car sales slump of approximately 16 per cent seen since the pre-recession peak.

But Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight forecast much more difficult times for the motor industry. “There are still significant pressures facing consumers, which threaten to limit the upside for confidence and spending for the time being,” Archer warned.

He said the car industry might be hit by fleets delaying replacements as they work through difficult economic conditions.

But SMMT revised its full year forecasts up on the better-than-expected figures, predicting total sales of 2.013m for 2012, up from its July estimate of 1.97m. And it believes sales will keep relatively steady into 2013, edging up to 2.015m.

Ford’s Fiesta continued to dominate through the month, selling 8,058 units, to bring its total for the year up to 96,805. This was followed, as in the year-to-date rankings, by the Vauxhall Corsa and the Ford Focus.

Volkswagen’s Golf places fourth, ahead of the Vauxhall Astra in fifth, the Nissan Qashqai in sixth, and the BMW 3 Series in seventh. The Volkswagen Polo, the Mercedes C-Class and the Fiat 500 make up the rest of the year’s top 10 so far.