Industry leaders say UK car market can grow further image

A bright spot for the ailing European car industry, UK car sales have risen every month since March 2012 and auto bosses believe the volume gains will continue.

The optimism has caused the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to predict that full-year sales will rise 8% compared with rise of 3% forecast earlier in the year. By comparison, overall car sales in Europe are forecast to fall by about 5%.

If the SMMT’s prediction is correct, 2.2 million vehicles will be sold this year in Britain. That is close to the pre-downturn figure of 2.4 million in 2007 and it would keep the UK ahead of France as the second-biggest car sales market in Europe behind Germany.

“There’s more scope to recover,” BMW UK Managing Director Tim Abbott said. “I think we’re still under-capacity in terms of sales.”

A key to the success has been a 16 percent rise in private sales, which has been driven by competitive finance, deals resulting from low interest rates, automaker bosses said.
At Citroen, up to 85 percent of retail sales are financed using the automaker’s house lender, BMW said in June that 80 percent of the models its Mini brand sells in the UK are financed using the automaker’s financing arm while at Ford, the average is about 70 percent, which is the highest figure globally for the manufacturer, UK head of sales Andy Barratt said.

Ford remains the top-selling brand in the UK, ahead of General Motors’ Vauxhall subsidiary, after sales grew 12 percent through July. The Fiesta subcompact was the UK’s best-selling model ahead of the Focus.