SMMT data shows ‘astonishing growth’ for UK auto industry

fiestaNew automotive industry data published today (Tuesday) has been hailed as representing an “astonishing sequence” of growth. Figures for 2013 from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show registrations for cars, vans and lorries all recording their best performance for five years.

During the year, 2,264,737 cars were registered, up 10.8% on 2012, hitting the highest annual registration total since 2007 and exceeding SMMT’s 2.25 million forecast for the year. December itself achieved the 22nd consecutive monthly rise in registrations.

The Ford Fiesta (pictured) continued to be the best seller with almost 122,000 registered during the year.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said the market had 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,” he added.

Commercial vehicle registrations grew 14.7% to 327,291 units during the year.

David Raistrick, UK Automotive Leader at Deloitte said: “The UK new car market has continued its astonishing sequence of comparative monthly growth” but asked “can the UK success story continue?”

He went on: “The likely answer is yes, but not at the rate of growth achieved over the past 12 months. With new car sales up by over 10% on 2012, it would not be realistic to expect similar levels to be repeated in the next year.

“There are always winners and losers at times of economic difficulty and the UK car market has definitely outperformed all expectations over the past year.  There are likely to be pressures building within the wider UK car market with increasing used car stocks becoming available.  This could become a challenge as customers weigh up the monthly cost differential between purchasing a new car as against a nearly new vehicle.  The expectation that new car finance rates will remain low in relative terms, which is partially due to manufacturer support, will continue to provide significant competition to the wider used car market.

“With this in mind, 2014 may see a slight downward movement in residual values as the market adjusts to a greater volume of nearly new car stock.  Finally, it is difficult to forecast with any certainty where 2014 will end but the Deloitte automotive team’s analysis is for car sales to remain firmly over 2 million, and probably in excess of 2.2 million, though definitely below 2.4 million.”

Copyright Ken Hurst 2014

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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