Scots car sales shift into reverse as rest of UK motors ahead

Car SaleNew car sales in Scotland hit the skids last year after the global slowdown in the oil and gas sector limited spending, according to latest industry data.

Registration numbers declined by nearly 0.5 per cent to 220,554, while the rest of the UK enjoyed a record year.

Industry bosses yesterday expressed disappointment at the performance which compares with a 6.3 per cent increase for the UK a whole.

Scottish dealers sold 220,554 cars last year, down by 1,016 units, following four years of consecutive growth.

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) said the oil sector slowdown had a “significant impact” on sales in the north east of Scotland.

Car registrations in the Grampian area fell by more than 10.3 per cent last year to 21,353.

Last year’s figures broke down as follows:

  • Private share of registrations - 114,085 units, representing 51.73% of the total for the year.
  • Fleet share - 90,138 units, representing 40.87% of the total for 2015.
  • Business share - 16,322 units, representing 7.4% of the year’s total.
  • A total of 11,840 units were sold in Scotland last month - the third largest figure for December on record.
  • Sandy Burgess
    Sandy Burgess

    Sandy Burgess, chief executive of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said: “Whilst there is no doubt we are disappointed to note that new car registrations for 2015 narrowly missed producing another record year, a small decline on last year’s total of 0.46 per cent should be taken in full context as in the result for 2014 were an all-time record for Scottish registrations.

    “The results confirm that the previous four years of consecutive growth have stalled predominately as a result of the significant impact of the global oil and gas industry slowdown on the north-east of Scotland.”

    He said, with current levels of strong consumer and business confidence, the market was likely to hold “broadly steady” in 2016.

    The latest figures, from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showed more than 2.63 million cars were registered in the UK in 2015 – an all-time high. The previous record was set in 2003 at 2.58 million.

    SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said high consumer confidence, wage growth and low-interest finance deals have encouraged motorists to buy new cars.

    Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles grew by 40.3 per cent last year, securing the biggest ever market share of 2.8 per cent. This was led by volumes for plug-in hybrids more than doubling, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50 per cent.

    UK-wide, the best selling car of 2015 was the Ford Fiesta while in Scotland the Vauxhall Corsa grabbed top spot.

    John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG, said the industry’s record sales figures were a result of consumer confidence being “finally back to pre-financial crisis levels”, the strength of the pound leading to lower prices and the availability of cheap credit.

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