Soaring British car sales defy slump across Europe

Marion Dakers
BRITISH car showrooms enjoyed their busiest April since 2008 last month, as drivers shrugged off the reluctance of their European peers to spend money on new vehicles.

New registrations in April were up 14.8 per cent compared to a year ago, with 163,357 cars bought during the month.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) yesterday raised its forecast for the year thanks to the strong sales, and now expects Britons to register 2.106m new vehicles this year, up three per cent on 2012.

The British car market has grown for 14 straight months, though annual sales remain more than 12 per cent behind the pre-recession peak seen in 2007.

“The UK continues to perform well ahead of the troubled Eurozone as consumer confidence, regular purchase cycles, attractive finance deals and wider market factors continue to make new car buying favourable for motorists,” SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said.

The Ford Fiesta retained its title as the top-selling car during the month and in the year to date, and the SMMT noted a rise in popularity for smaller vehicles.

“Increasing maintenance costs and the relatively high fuel bills associated with older models means more consumers are looking for newer, more fuel efficient vehicles,” added Barclays head of retail and wholesale Richard Lowe. The recovery in commercial vehicles accelerated, with sales rising 30.9 per cent on a year ago to 24,370, though sales of trucks fell.