Following hot on the heels of the Eurovision Song Contest comes news that Europe’s motor industry has recorded its first new car sales increase for 18 months. But within this there are – as in the contest we all love to hate - winners and losers.
Sales in France and Italy dropped by 5% and 11% respectively, reflecting a harder economic climate. Cyprus and Finland were bottom of the pile though, registering sales drops of more than 50%.
At the other end of the European charts we see the UK (+15%), German (+4%) and Spanish (+11%) markets dragging the overall European performance into one of year-on-year growth, with sales of new cars across the continent up by 1.8%.
The UK sales growth has been primarily driven by some cracking car finance deals, with many new cars costing well under a couple of hundred pounds a month after the payment of an initial advance rental payment. The majority (some 72%) of UK new car sales are now made using finance packages. These deals usually include warranties and other incentives – such as cheap car insurance
– and with improvements in engine efficiency leading to better fuel consumption, buying a new car and driving in the UK is relatively affordable.
Given the strong UK new car sales results in 2013 to date (with sales up some 9%) the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is now forecasting that new car sales for 2013 as a whole will be around 2.1 million. Whilst this represents growth of 3% compared to 2012 and a five year high, it still lags well behind the pre-recession peak of 2.6 million car sales.
Some other interesting stats from the SMMT sales figures for April:
- Diesel cars still out-sell petrol cars, accounting for 50.3% of sales.
- Sales of petrol cars, however, grew by 20% year-on-year to 48.6% of the market, demonstrating increased demand.
- Sales of what the SMMT calls “Alternative Fuel Vehicles” (AFVs) have essentially stalled and accounted for 1.1% of the market.
In terms of which car manufacturers gained share, Nissan , Jaguar, Land Rover and Suzuki all saw their sales soar. BMW, Honda, Lexus and Volvo fared less well, with sales declining.
And the UK’s three favourite new cars in April? Top of the pops was the Ford Fiesta. In second place was the Vauxhall Corsa, followed by the Ford Focus.