Consumer dip defied by car registrations

Julian Harris
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NEW car registrations spiked upwards in July as a year of growth for the automotive industry continued to strengthen, with luxury brands performing well.

Registrations jumped 9.3 per cent last month to 143,884 vehicles, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – the sharpest increase of any month in 2012 so far.

For the year as a whole, new car registrations are up 3.5 per cent to more than 1.2m, despite business purchases falling 15.7 per cent.

“This is a surprising result, particularly given that it is the UK consumer who is powering this recovery,” said John Leech, a partner in KPMG’s automotive practice.

“Although consumer confidence in the UK remains at a low level, carmakers are offering a higher than normal release of new models and large discounts to consumers.”

Registrations of Porsches rose more than 41 per cent in July compared to the same month a year earlier, and are up by over 34 per cent annualised for 2012 so far.

Total car registrations remain down on pre-crisis peaks, however.