The beleaguered motor industry received a much-needed boost today when new car sale figures rose for the first time since April last year.
A total of 157,149 new cars were registered in July - an increase of 2.4 per cent on the July 2008 figure, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
The SMMT said the rise was due to the Government's "cash for bangers" car-scrappage scheme, which was introduced in May.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt went on: "The impact of the scrappage scheme is clear and we are encouraged by the positive impact it has had, increasing new car registrations for the first time since April 2008.
"The industry still faces a long road to recovery and we urge Government to take action to sustain economic recovery through easing access to finance and credit and delivering the loan guarantees set out by the automotive assistance programme."
The July 2009 total was 10 per cent above SMMT forecasts but was still 10 per cent below the average for July over the last 10 years.
Despite the rise in July, the new car sales figures for the year so far are down 22.8 per cent compared with the January-July 2008 total.
Sales to private buyers rose for the second successive month - going up 33.4 per cent to the highest July figure since 2004.
The mini sector more than trebled last month compared with July 2008 while supermini volumes rose 15.7 per cent.
The SMMT still expects sales to fall 14.4 per cent to 1,825,000 in 2009 and to decline a further 5 per cent in 2010 to 1.73 million.
These were the best-selling models in July 2009:
1. Ford Fiesta
2. Ford Focus
3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Vauxhall Astra
5. Volkswagen Golf
6. Peugeot 207
7. Vauxhall Insignia
8. BMW 3 Series
9. Hyundai i10