Britain's motor traders report best year for new car sales in a decade

Best-sellers in 2014 were the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa

The UK’s new car sales were the best for a decade in 2014, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Some 2,476,435 new cars hit the roads last year, the best result since 2004, and the fourth best year on record. It represents a 9. 4 per cent rise on 2013, and a decisive recovery from the depths of the recession, with about one million more new cars finding owners than in the period after the banking crash.

Best-sellers in 2014 were the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa.

New cars sales have grown for 34 consecutive months, the SMMT reported. However, the outlook for this is year is less strong, with sales predicted to rise by about 1 to 2 per cent. Some 86 per cent of the UK market is accounted for by imports, a level that has been steady for some years.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: “UK new car registrations returned to pre-recession levels in 2014, as pent-up demand from the recession years combined with confidence in the economy saw consumer demand for the latest models grow.”

UK car production, 80 per cent of which is exported, also rose, to around 1.5 million vehicles, the highest since 1972.  About a half of British car exports go to the rest of the EU, where continuing economic problems hit sales.

A “solid year” of stable growth is predicted for 2015, with a new products and engine lines expected including a new generation of  Vauxhall Astras at Ellesmere Port and the first full year of production for the latest Nissan Qashqai and the Mini.