Scrappage scheme boosts car sales

New cars sales rose again last month - up 26.4% on February 2009's total - but still fell significantly short of the 2008 figure and the average rate of sales for the last decade.

In all, there was a total of 68,686 new registrations in February 2010, 12.2% below the average for the month since 1999 and a 1.3% drop on 2008's number.

Manufacturers believe the scrappage scheme fuelled the acceleration in sales of new cars which, despite being lower than normal, still represents a significant improvement on the successive 15 months of year-on-year falls witnessed prior to the introduction of the programme.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the soon-to-end scheme accounted for 19.6% of the February 2010 new car market, with chief executive Paul Everitt adding: "Scrappage has generated eight consecutive months of growth in the new car market and we expect its benefits to stretch beyond the scheme's closure later this month."

The SMMT said it expected sales to rise in March 2010, but also for the number of new registrations to dip slightly in the second half of the year. It also predicts that the total number of new registrations for the year will fall by around 10% to 1.82 million.

Sales of new Toyota cars in the UK held up reasonably well despite the fact that the Japanese motor giant had to recall around eight million vehicles worldwide because of a number of problems. Their share of the market dropped by just 4.91%. The company sold 3,439 cars last month compared with 2,981 in February 2009 when the overall market was smaller.

The top-selling models in February were, in order, the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra, Vauxhall Corsa, Hyundai i10, Volkswagen Polo, BMW 3 Series, Kia Picanto and the Peugeot 207.

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