The UK car industry staged a slight recovery last month when sales of new vehicles increased for the first time in six months.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) stated 81,969 new cars were registered in February, increasing 1.4% from a year previously. February is conventionally one of the quietest months of the year, as customers hold off purchases prior the numberplate change in March.
Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at the consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics, stated the boost in sales was good news for the wider economy.
“February’s rise in car sales is another reminder that households’ spending likely will keep increasing in the first quarter, ensuring that a retrenchment of business spending due to Brexit risks won’t tip the economy into a recession,” he stated.
Tombs alerted, however, that the latest pick-up could reflect some customers bringing forward purchases, fearing a further decline of the pound in the event of a no-deal Brexit would boost the cost of cars later this year.
Demand for diesel cars still continued to drop in February, with the number sold down by 14% at 24,284 vehicles, where as petrol car sales boosted by 8% to 53,164. The strongest growth was in sales of alternative-fuelled vehicles, which boosted 34% last month to 4,521, as cutting-edge models attracted consumers into showrooms – marking almost two years of continued growth.
Registrations of zero-emission electric cars more than doubled to 731 units, although they still represented for a fraction of the market at 0.9%.
The SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, stated: “It’s encouraging to see market growth in February, albeit marginal, particularly for electrified models.”