Sales ‘driving up to pre-slump levels’

New car sales rose in April for the 26the month running prompting hopes they could end this year at

New car sales rose in April for the 26the month running prompting hopes they could end this year at pre 2008 slump levels. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

New car sales could be back to pre-recession levels by the end of this year after a good start to 2014.

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show there were 176,820 new vehicles registered in April – an 8.2% rise on the same month last year.

Last month’s figure took the total for the year so far to 864,942 – a 12.5% increase on the first four months of 2013.

The April figures followed a 17.7% rise in March when the new 14-plate cars went on sale.

The SMMT is forecasting that registrations will reach more than 2.4 million this year, which would be 6% up on the total for last year and on a par with the year-end figures achieved before 2008 when a sales slump set in.

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SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After the bumper plate-change month of March, the UK car market returned to more modest but still positive growth in April.

“This marks 26 consecutive months of growth as GDP continues to pick up, inflation falls and wage levels improve. As UK economic confidence improves still further and the market continues its upward trend, we have revised our 2014 forecast up from 2.3 million to over 2.4 million registrations.”

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Once the recession set in, UK new car sales dipped alarmingly, falling from a figure of 2.4 million in 2007 to 2.13 million in 2008 and below the two million mark in both 2009 and 2011.

Car sales have long been seen as an indicator of economic growth, or decline, and when the economy started to pick up, new registrations began to rise.

The March total of nearly 465,000 was the highest monthly new-registration figure for 10 years and the second highest in 15 years.

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