UK car sales rise in September, bucking downward European trend
Industry association SMMT sees signs that consumer confidence is returning
UK new-car sales rose for a seventh consecutive month in September in contrast to other major European markets that are suffering steep declines.
Registrations grew by 8.2 percent to 359,612 vehicles, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders industry association.
SMMT is positive about future sales despite the weak economy. "Although the economic outlook remains challenging, we are starting to see a tentative return of consumer confidence as motorists explore new products and the latest fuel-efficient technologies," SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said in a statement on Thursday.
Nine-month UK car registrations are up 4.3 percent to 1.62 million. In July, the SMMT revised upward its forecast for full-year sales to 1.97 million from a forecast of 1.94 million in April. Full-year sales were 1.94 million in 2011.
Most major brands saw sales increase last month. Registrations of General Motors' Vauxhall brand rose nearly 4 percent, Ford sales were up 9.2 percent and Volkswagen brand's volume rose 7.4 percent.
German premium brands did particularly well as Audi sales rose 19.8 percent, BMW-brand sales grew 23.3 percent and the Mercedes-Benz marque sold 8.7 percent more vehicles.
Brands that lost sales included BMW's Mini, which sold 2.8 percent fewer cars and Renault, whose sales plunged 36.3 percent. Volvo sales fell 20.5 percent.
Falling European markets
Sales in Germany, Italy, Spain and France all declined last month, according to official data.
In Germany, the region's largest single market, registrations were down 10.9 percent. In France, registrations dropped 18 percent while sales in Spain dropped by 37 percent. In Italy, sales fell 26 percent.
Reuters contributed to this report
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