Senior executives in the industry are starting to plan for a 2.3m new car market in the UK this year. That would represent almost 15% growth on last year’s 2.04m unit total and, against the odds, be the second highest figure on record.
Neil Williamson (pictured), Director of SEAT UK, speaking by video-link at the launch of the Leon SC last week, said: ‘The new car market has been surprisingly strong this year and we’re looking at 2.2 million, maybe even 2.3 million, units this year. I think it’s fair to say one or two of us are surprised by that.’
Mr Williamson’s view is likely to be shared by others within Volkswagen Group where SEAT has seen an 18.6% sales growth in the first half of the year, with Skoda up 15.3%, Audi up 11.8% and Volkswagen itself up 5.7%.
The current SMMT forecast is for a 2.1m unit market but that has not been revised since April and momentum is building. First quarter sales were up by 7.4% and half-year results showed registrations ahead of 2102 by 10% with a 17.1% growth in private sales.
Mike Baunton, interim SMMT chief executive, said: ‘While there are still potential challenges ahead, recent robust growth suggests that the market is on course to perform well ahead of 2012 levels.’
Last week Paul Williams, chairman of Vertu Motors, told shareholders that trading in the first four months of the group’s financial year was ‘ahead of expectations” and “benefitting from strong market conditions’.
Mr Williams added: ‘This growth has been driven by very attractive consumer offers from manufacturers who are keen to stimulate market demand in the UK as the continental European new car markets have continued to decline and many face overcapacity in production.
‘As a result of the overall momentum in the business, the group has recorded like-for-like profit growth in each of its activities of new retail and used car sales, fleet and commercial vehicle sales and vehicle servicing.’
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