Car sales go up a gear, fuelling optimism over economic revival

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An impressive jump in new car purchases last month has reinforced hopes that confidence is returning to the economy.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) said that vehicle registrations jumped 14.8 per cent in April on the same month in 2012. That represents the strongest growth in 14 months.

UK new car registrations have been growing since the beginning of 2012. In the first four months of the year, they were up 8.9 per cent on 2012. In the rest of the European Union, new registrations have been in decline since early 2010.

The fortunes of the UK car industry, which accounts for 700,000 jobs and 10 per cent of total exports, are regarded as a useful barometer of the health of the larger economy. Of the 163,357 vehicles registered in April, 81,753 were private sales and 75,067 were fleet sales.

Private sales were up 32.3 per cent year on year. The most popular marques were the Ford Fiesta, with 8,083 registrations, Vauxhall Corsa (6,084), Ford Focus (5,944) and the Volkswagen Golf (5,283). Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight described the figures as "very encouraging". He said: "Sales have been supported by attractive offers and packages, as well as by motorists' desire to buy more fuel-efficient cars."

End of road for printed Auto Trader

Car advertising magazine Auto Trader will produce its last print edition in June as it goes online only, its owner Trader Media Group has announced.

The company, which is jointly owned by Guardian Media Group and Apax Partners, will also stop publishing print editions of its other magazines, including Van Trader and Farm Trader, at the same time.

Sales of Auto Trader fell to 27,000 last month, having hit highs of almost 370,000 in 2000, while its website receives more than 11 million unique visitors a month.