Bumper UK car sales at pre-crisis levels

The end of 2013 marked a stellar year for the car industry, as car sales jumped 23.8 per cent year-on-year in December.

Growing consumer confidence and cheap credit saw 2013's car sales zoom to pre-recession levels, recording the best performance in five years, after 22 successive increases.

Car registrations hit 2.26m last year, up 10.8 per cent on 2012 and whizzing past the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' (SMMT) forecast of 2.25m.

Private car sales went up an impressive 19.8 per cent in December to 61,000 units, following November's 11.6 per cent increase.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said:

With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country's economic recovery

While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe.

The increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available, as well as increased demand for more technologically advanced new cars.

We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle.

And Howard Archer, IHS, comments:

While car manufacturers are relatively confident about the prospects for 2014, they will be aware that it will not all be plain driving with consumers’ purchasing power currently still squeezed by inflation persistently running markedly higher than earnings growth while businesses generally remain keen to contain costs.

The motor industry will be hoping that the recent improvement in UK economic activity is sustained and extended, and that this underpins consumer and business confidence, and their willingness to splash out on new cars.