New car sales down 30% on last year

The economic downturn continues to affect the motor industry after new car sales slumped more than 30% last month compared with the same time last year, figures show.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the 30.9% fall in January was the biggest monthly figure since 1974, with just 112,087 new cars registered in the UK.

The SMMT used the figures to step up calls for a so-called scrappage incentive scheme, where the Government offers financial incentives to scrap older cars when buying newer models.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: "There is a clear need to stimulate demand for new vehicles in the UK market. A number of EU member states have launched scrappage incentive schemes, which have the benefit of boosting consumer confidence and delivering significant environmental improvements.

"The UK motor industry is urging the UK Government to introduce a similar scheme and help sustain jobs and businesses throughout the sector."

The SMMT said the new car market continued to decline "sharply" at the start of 2009, with consumers remaining concerned that the general economic gloom would impact upon them directly.

"With jobs being lost, consumers appear unwilling to spend on large discretionary items like cars," said the society.

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