August car sales may top 500,000: Motor dealers confident that M-registration boom will match pre-recession peak

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THE RUSH for M-registered cars had dealers hoping yesterday that August sales would easily reach 500,000, an increase of 14 per cent over the same period last year.

As many as 200,000 new cars may have been sold yesterday, although the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders will not release figures for another 10 days.

The only previous August when the industry had sales of half-a- million cars was in 1989, before the sector fell into deep recession. According to the Retail Motor Industry Federation, there is every reason to be confident that the peak will be reached again this month.

A spokesman for the RMI said: 'We are selling a lot of cars. Some dealers are saying that between a third and a half of August sales could be made on day one.'

The RMI last week revised its sales forecast to more than 2 million for 1994 compared with about 1.8 million last year. That would still be short of the 2.3 million achieved in 1989.

The M-registration boom is expected to be fuelled by fleet buyers rather than by private individuals. Lex, one of the larger dealership chains, is predicting that fleet sales could increase by about 37 per cent.

Private sales may increase by a more modest 7 per cent.

The rush is helped by discounting and financing deals offered by companies, and dealers are offering lucrative trade-in packages in the hopes of attracting those still cautious about spending.