UK car sales reach best value since 2007 – chart image

UK car sales in 2013 recorded their best year since 2007, industry figures have shown, helped by cheap credit deals and stronger consumer confidence.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that 2.26 million vehicles were registered in 2013, up 10.8% on 2012 and exceeding SMMT’s 2.25 million forecast for the year.

2013 hits highest annual registration total since 2007 as December achieves 22nd consecutive monthly rise. On average, an additional 600 extra cars registered per day in 2013 than in the previous year. This puts Great Britain firmly as Europe’s second largest car market and only one to grow consistently throughout 2013.

“With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country’s economic recovery,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe with 22 consecutive months of growth. The 10.8% increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available as well as increased demand for more technologically advanced new cars. We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle.”

Industry analysts say that attractive financing deals have tempted buyers, with three-quarters of sales to private buyers now involving some kind of financing package.

Economic data in recent months has indicated that consumers are more confident. Analysts have also pointed to refunds from mix-sold payment protection insurance policies as helping to drive sales. Average payouts have been about £3,000.

The SMMT figures confirmed that Ford was the UK’s top-selling brand last year, enjoying success with its Fiesta supermini and mid-sized Focus models, followed by General Motors’ Vauxhall Corsa and Astra models. The SMMT also said that one-in-seven, or 300,000, of the cars bought last year were built in the UK.