Car sales rise to give third best year on record

Car sales rose by 7.2 per cent to 2.17 million during 1997, the third best year on record, the Society of Motor Manufacturing and Traders confirmed yesterday. During December registrations rose by 8.3 per cent, to 84,634, though the share of the market taken by British made cars during the month slumped from 42 per cent to 35 per cent. It meant that imports accounted for 66 per cent of the market during 1997, a rise of 4 per cent on the previous year.

Ford took the top three sales slots last year, with the Fiesta in first place, though the group's market share dropped from 19.6 per cent to 18.3 per cent. Rover's market share was 10.01 per cent, down 1 per cent on 1996.