UK car sales rise for second successive month

New car sales have risen for the second successive month as the Government's "cash for bangers" car-scrappage continues to boost the motor industry.

A total of 67,006 new cars were registered in August 2009, a 6.0% increase on the August 2008 total, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt added: "This is welcome news for the UK motor industry.

"The scrappage incentive scheme is having a positive impact but with consumer and business confidence still fragile, there remain significant risks ahead. It is essential that these early signs of recovery are sustained into 2010."

The August figure follows a 2.4% rise in sales in July 2009, which was the first time there had been a year-on-year increase for 15 months.

But despite the encouraging summer figures, new car sales are still down 21.5% for the first eight months of 2009 compared with the January-August 2008 total.

Also, the 2009 total was still more than 10,500 below the August 2007 figure and 15% off the August average for the period 1999-2008.

The mini and supermini sector again did well last month, while private sales increased by 50.5%, albeit on a weak August 2008.

The SMMT attributed the rise in private sales to the car-scrappage scheme which was introduced in May and which has, first, halted the rate of decline in sales and, secondly, taken sales into positive territory again.

However, August traditionally accounts for only 3.3% of the total year's sales and the big test will come when the figures for September, one of the two new number-plate months, are announced in a month's time.

These were the best-selling models in August 2009:

1. Ford Focus

2. Ford Fiesta

3. Hyundai i10

4. Vauxhall Corsa

5. Volkswagen Golf

6. Peugeot 207

7. BMW 3 Series

8. Vauxhall Astra

9. Vauxhall Insignia

10.Toyota Yaris

One of the big success stories of last month was Hyundai, with sales rising a huge 322% on August 2008 and its i10 city car soaring to third place in the best-selling models' table.

Car scrappage schemes have also been introduced, with much success, in the USA and Europe.

The French initiative, which was due to finish at the end of this year, has been extended until 2011.

The UK scheme will finish once the £300 million the Government has put into the initiative is exhausted.

More than 185,000 vehicles have been bought as part of the scheme and the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) said the Government should consider extending the initiative.

RMIF director Sue Robinson said: "The scheme has been highly successful, but with the retail economic climate still fragile, demand still growing, and an increase in VAT scheduled for January 1 2010, an extension of the initiative is vital."