'L' registration sales boost industry hopes: Motor industry in buoyant mood as dealers exceed their August targets

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The Independent Online
INITIAL sales of new 'L' registered cars have boosted industry hopes that August sales will outstrip official predictions of 400,000 and far exceed last August's 373,000, writes Mary Fagan.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation said advance orders meant some dealers had already exceeded their targets and optimism was running high. A spokesman for the federation said: 'All the signs are good. But for the moment we are sticking to a forecast of 400,000 cars.'

That would still be well below the record achieved in 1989, when more than 500,000 new cars were sold in August and 2.3 million in the year as a whole. The industry is predicting that total sales for 1993 will be 1.73 million, compared with 1.59 million last year. The increase in home sales is badly needed, as overseas markets, which have supported production levels during recession in the UK, are now beginning to be squeezed.

Bob Grant, sales director of the Ford dealer Dagenham Motors, said: 'It is certainly very, very positive and encouraging at this stage.' He said the new Mondeo model had helped lift sales, but demand for other models, including the Fiesta, Escort and Orion, was also strong. Dagenham's share price rose by 15p yesterday to close at 123p.

Shares in T Cowie, which represents most main manufacturers, rose by 9p to 264p on the back of the industry's more buoyant mood. A spokesman for the company, which has 42 dealerships nationwide, said: 'In general terms there are a lot of things which appear to make people want to buy this year - new models, more advertising by manufacturers and more confidence over employment prospects.'

He said that the feeling from people visiting showrooms was that they had weathered the recession and were going to celebrate by buying the car they had been putting to the back of their minds for two to three years. 'There is a lot of pent- up demand out there.'

The industry as a whole is now waiting for the first concrete indication of how August might go when the sales figures for the first 10 days of the month are released.

(Photograph omitted)

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