The extent of the dire new car market here in the UK last year manifested itself as an 11.3 per cent drop on new registrations compared with 2007, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has revealed.
Overall 2,131,795 new cars were registered last year compared with 2,404,007 the previous year.
Of the major manufacturers it was the luxury brands that suffered the heaviest losses. Amongst them, Land Rover experienced a 30.04% decline, Aston Martin slipped 28.54% and Porsche, which yesterday increased its stake in Volkswagen to over 50%, dropped 30.65%. There was also heavy declines for the likes of Saab (-32.01%), Honda (-20.95%) and Renault (-29.37%).
Economy brands fared better but most still saw less new cars leave the forecourts than in 2007. Nissan, Ford and Fiat were down 0.14, 7.58 and 6.87 % down respectively.
In two examples of infrequent growth, new registrations of Volvos were up 10.98% while Jaguar’s 8.73% improvement provides consolidation for its Indian owner Tata as the latter licks the wounds inflicted by Land Rover.
More new Fords were sold in 2008 than any other brand and its Focus was the top selling individual model for the tenth straight year in a row. Ford’s leading market-share was 15.13%.
“The global economic downturn, precipitated by the crisis in the international banking and finance sector, created unprecedented challenges for the UK automotive industry in 2008,” said SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt. “The measures taken by government to support the banking sector and kick-start demand have been necessary, but are not yet sufficient to restore confidence. Further action to ease access to finance and credit across the economy is essential if long-term damage to valuable industrial capability is to be avoided.”
Everitt warned that production and new registrations will again be significantly reduced again this year but “the industry faces these challenges stronger and more resilient than in recent memory,” he asserted. He called for government support to enable the industry to “take advantage of global economic growth when it returns.”
The top five manufacturers in terms of UK registrations of new cars in 2008 were:
1. Ford 322,514
2. Vauxhall 298,912
3. Volkswagen 179,189
4. Peugeot 118,701
5. BMW 113,132
The top 5 models were:
1. Focus 101,593
2. Corsa 99,574
3. Fiesta 94,989
4. Astra 90,641
5. Golf 65,029