While the rest of Europe acts to cut its losses in the automobile market, some heartening news has come in for the UK economy.

Thanks to the strong performances of the UK’s market leaders – the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus – figures released on Tuesday by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that there were 121,252 new car registrations in the UK last month; up 12% on the number registered in October 2011.

The market has increased month-on-month throughout 2012 with the exception of February, with October’s healthy sales sum leading the SMMT to increase its forecast for the total number of sales this year from 1.97 million to over 2 million. The current figure stands at approximately 1.8 million sold – a growth of 5% so far this year on last year’s total of 1.94 million new registrations.

All this comes despite a very negative outlook for the EU as a whole, whose sales figures for September confirmed an unbroken run of 12 months of declining sales, and with the final drop of more than a tenth coming as the steepest to date. Compared with the totals from September 2011, Spain has seen a drop-off of over a third; Italy, more than a quarter. The UK is the only major member state of the EU to have reported any gain at all, let alone one of more than 10% on a year ago.

The boost in UK registrations could be explained by car dealers’ increasing habit of buying and reselling cars as “nearly new” – a sleight of hand trick that lends some skew to the figures – but without the demand in the first place it would prove fruitless. “[T]he strength of private car sales in October gives a lift to hopes that consumers are becoming a bit more prepared – and able – to spend,” said economist Howard Archer on the figures.

Stephen Jury


November 6, 2012

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