Car sales soar in 2012
OVERALL new car sales in the UK topped the two million mark after a five per cent jump, the best result since the recession struck in 2008 and the biggest annual growth since 2001. One notable feature was the return of private buyers, with retail sales up 13 per cent as drivers took advantage of the spectacular deals available.
At the moment the UK is the only strongly performing car market in the eurozone so manufacturers are switching production to right hand drive models and pushing money at the market to drive the sales and keep their factories open.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says: "More than two million new cars were registered in the UK during 2012, up 5.3 per cent on the previous 12 months and the best result since recession struck in 2008. "Boosted by strong consumer demand, the market grew at its fastest rate for 11 years with innovative, fuel-efficient cars keeping buyers in showrooms. Looking ahead to 2013, we anticipate the market will hold firm, with manufacturers and dealers working hard to deliver quality and value to motorists."
Dealers in North Staffordshire also reported good 2012 results. Neil Rudge, operations director at the family-run multi-franchise Holdcroft Group, says: "I am pleased to say that overall our retail registrations in 2012 were seven per cent above those of 2011. We are confident that 2013 will show another increase but for us this is more based on the introduction of new models than an increase in consumer natural demand.''
Holdcroft's franchises have several crucial new cars due to arrive this year such as the acclaimed ultra-efficient Honda Civic diesel, the new Renault Clio which will be vital in restoring that manufacturer's fortunes, the new budget Dacia Sandero which will be the cheapest new car on sale in the UK, the new Mazda 6 and Honda CR-V SUV.
Tony Littler, managing director of another family-run multi-franchise group, Longton-based Platts, is another to record a strong 2012 and looking forward to new models this year boosting the market.
Tony says: "Our Fiat sales were up 20 per cent last year on 2011, our Chrysler Jeep business did well given that we only started with it during 2012 and from a standing start we sold 120 units which I am happy with. Our SsangYong side is a useful part of the business too.
"This year we have the new 500L from Fiat arriving in March, new models and facelifts from Chrysler Jeep, the new Panda 4x4 and by the end of the year we will get the new Alfa Romeo 4C sports car which we are very excited about so with luck, 2013 should be another good year for us.''
Rob Dawson, operations manager of Drayton Mercedes, adds: "2012 was a much healthier year and saw Mercedes-Benz increase market share both nationally and on a local level.
"In addition we saw more vehicles through our workshop and our parts turnover increased year on year, in fact the Drayton Group had the largest parts spend nationally with Mercedes-Benz UK.
"Overall it was a much more profitable year with many areas of the business delivering upper quartile performance and we are very excited about 2013, with a growing product range and some of the most dynamic cars we have ever offered so we have a lot of optimism.''
There were winners and losers among manufacturers but perhaps the most worthy performance of note comes from Hyundai which popped into the top ten sellers – the first time a Korean brand has ever done that – and it outperformed the market by three times, increasing sales over 2011 by 18 per cent and it secured a record market share of 3.63 per cent.
It also became the fastest-growing manufacturer in the fleet sector with an impressive 40 per cent increase.