Vroom-vroom but not a boom

Marc Sidwell
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RECORD UK sales for Jaguar Land Rover in 2012 are a rare rosy indicator. Up 19 per cent year on year, without even the benefit of a government industrial policy to spur it on, these numbers must have JLR’s owner Tata Motors purring in delight.

And this is not a one-off result. While JLR deserves the credit for achieving such excellent numbers, car registrations in the UK are on the up in general. New research released by industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a rise of 5.3 per cent in 2012 in new car registrations, to 2,044,609. That is the largest percentage increase for more than a decade, since 2001.

However, best put on the brakes before your hopes of auto-led recovery start zooming ahead of reality. Despite their impressive acceleration last year, UK car sales have yet to reach their pre-recession top gear, when they used to run at 2.4m units a year or more. UK car production is expected to grow at nine per cent a year to 2.2m vehicles in 2016, according to a report by KPMG published last September. But that is due to export demand. UK sales are on the up but except for rare players like JLR, firms are not exactly breaking the speed limit.