No hope of big rise in new car sales

CAR SALES in August are on course for a modest rise, though nothing like the 15-20 per cent predicted after the first day of the N-registration sales last Tuesday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders had counted 63,000 registrations two days into the month, 8.5 per cent higher than the 58,000 in the same period last year. Industry sources warned, however, that these figures were affected by the speed of processing and would not necessarily reflect numbers for a longer period.

More cars are usually sold in the first few days of August than in complete months at other times of year, so the industry watches the figures closely. This year there has been little optimism: sales have been flat or falling since autumn, and car companies have predicted that total August sales will be up to 5 per cent higher than in 1994.

A Peugeot spokesman said the first few days had been very busy as usual, "but our view is cautious. It looks as though the total might reach last year's level". A Vauxhall spokesman said it was expecting a rise of about 5 per cent in August. "We're still reckoning on a 475,000 ballpark figure, against 453,000 last year." Ford expects a similar figure.

Manufacturers, faced with fierce competition and the pros- pect of significant overproduction, have been offering some of the most attractive deals ever. Vauxhall has a scheme whereby customers can pay half the price of a car now and half in two years' time, with no intervening payments or interest added. A spokesman said that this offer had boosted sales significantly since it was launched in May, and had even led to a shortage of some models. Ford, meanwhile, has a range of well-equipped "specials" available, as well as incentives such a free mobile phone.

Only Rover, which has been trying to distance itself from the Ford-Vauxhall battle, has not been discounting heavily. Its UK market share in the year to date is 10 per cent, lower than for several years, but its export success has meant production has continued to rise. A spokesman said it expected Aug- ust sales to be very close to last year's. "It's disappointing that the market has not started to build up again, but we are lucky to have the rest of the world to build on," he said.

There had been predictions that tax changes that came into force on 1 August would provide a fillip from the fleet market. Companies leasing cars could not previously reclaim VAT on their payments - under the new regime they can. But the Rover spokesman said: "The perceived rush to change fleet cars hasn't happened." An industry source said that this could be because companies were waiting until the August rush was over, when it should be possible to get even better discounts.

The tax changes also have a marginal effect on leasing costs for individuals. They have been enough to encourage several companies, led by Ford, to set up personal leasing schemes in the hope that they will gain at least some of the momentum they have in the United States.

General Motors makes 40 per cent of its private sales to leasing customers, and it is becoming normal to see a "monthly payment" sticker on the windscreen, rather than the price. However, manufacturers are not yet saying how widely the UK schemes, which came into effect on 1 August, have been taken up.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific