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Car industry celebrates

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says November new car sales were "the best on record" and show the biggest percentage rise this year.

Private registrations were up 33.8% - 45% of the total market. Overall, new car registrations soared by 13.4% in November.

Reigstrations for the first 11 months of the year, at 2,113,868 units were just ahead of the last year's level.

The figures, the SMMT says, reflect "strong competition in the industry, with improved deals and stronger warranty packages".

Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, said: "The figures show that consumer confidence has returned and car buyers are benefiting from stronger competition in the UK.

"Exciting new products, improved deals and longer warranties are fuelling a buoyant market. With the industry back on track to hit 2.2 million units by the end of the year, and with positive outlook for 2001, the feel good factor has returned to the car showroom."

Alan Pulham, franchised dealer director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said: "Clarity on pricing has at last brought private customers back to the car showroom. "'Retail franchises' see most benefit whilst 'fleet franchises' have had to work harder to maintain sales."

Last month the SMMT was forced to its forecast for new car registrations for the year after October figures reflected the continuing downward trend in the market.

From January to the end of October the market was down 0.93% and as a result the SMMT dropped its end-of-year unit forecast by 40,000 units.

Key points of November sales:

  • The rise in both October and November registrations has pushed the market back on track to top the 2.2 million mark for the full year.
  • December 1999 was "weak" and next month's figures are likely to exceed those for last year.
  • Positive economic growth and some exciting new product launches should continue the upward trend in 2001.
  • Market growth was once led by the private sector. Registrations by private buyers rose by 33.8% last month, boosting market share to 44.6%. Fleet sales increased by 2.1% and business registrations were down 5.4%.
  • Top selling model was the Ford Focus (10,141 units), followed by the Vauxhall Astra (8,133), Ford Fiesta (6,664), Peugeot 206 (5,784) and Vauxhall Vectra (5,273)
  • Rover was upbeat about the latest sales figures, boasting that it would sell 100,000 vehicles in the UK and 200,000 worldwide by the end of 2000. So far this year it has sold 97,883 cars and its market share stands at 4.63%, down from 5% this time last year.

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