There’s some solace from the fact the first month of the year is traditionally the quietest, but the stats still make grim reading.
Now the SMMT is calling for a scrappage scheme – where owners of older cars are offered an incentive to trade in their motor for a new one – to get the market moving again.
‘There is a clear need to stimulate demand for new vehicles in the UK market,’ said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
‘A number of EU member states have launched scrappage incentive schemes, which have the benefit of boosting consumer confidence and delivering significant environmental improvements.
‘The UK motor industry is urging UK government to introduce a similar scheme and help sustain jobs and businesses throughout the sector.’
All sales types fell in January, although the fall in the private sector was less steep – perhaps reflective of the VAT cuts but more likely that the private sector had already begun to decline in January 2008, says the SMMT.
All segments showed falling volumes in January, except the mini segment – which was up 40.8 per cent. Supermini demand slowed less steeply than in other segments to post a market share up almost five percentage points to 35.6 per cent.
The market is still expected to decline by 19.3 per cent in 2009 to 1.72 million units. This would be some 410,000 units off the 2008 total and almost 685,000 units down on 2007.
And this already follows the 11.3 per cent drop in new car sales in 2008.
There have already been moves to help struggling makers with the government recently unveiling a £2.3bn aid package to give carmakers loans.
Download the full results manufacturer by manufacturer in this Excel document: car_jan_09_xls
by James Baggott