Credit crunch mauls top car sales

Steep falls in car sales have hit the luxury end of the market hardest as the credit crunch tightens its grip on the nation.

While new car sales fell by 21.2% across the board, Bentley sold only 153, a 47.78% fall, and Cadillac plunged by 61.64% to 61.

Alfa Romeo's new registrations dropped 44.02% to 796, while Daimler saw a drop of two thirds, from nine to three.

Although 4,907 new Land Rovers were registered last month, this was a 49.7% fall. And Lexus fared almost as badly, with a 43.98% slump to 1,894.

Sara Lee, spokeswoman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said that while the fall was across all sections of the market, it was "not necessarily as much at the lower end".

But she said the fact these premium brands tend to be sold in smaller volumes should be taken into account.

"If Bentley sells 200 or 300 cars less, the percentage change is a lot higher than it is for a similar drop in number of Minis, for example."

One premium brand to see an increase was Jaguar with 3,608 new registrations last month, 3.56% up on last year.

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