CAR sales fell 11.3 per cent in 2008 as figures released today by the SMMT show December sales dropped 21 per cent.
The total sales figures for 2008 fell to 2,131,795 units – from 2,404,007 in 2007.
‘The global economic downturn, precipitated by the crisis in the international banking and finance sector, created unprecedented challenges for the UK automotive industry in 2008,’ said SMMT chief executive, Paul Everitt.
‘The measures taken by government to support the banking sector and kick-start demand have been necessary, but are not yet sufficient to restore confidence.
‘Further action to ease access to finance and credit across the economy is essential if long-term damage to valuable industrial capability is to be avoided.’
Predicting more problems ahead, Everitt added: ‘2009 will be another difficult year for the UK automotive industry with new vehicle registrations and production significantly reduced.
‘The industry faces these challenges stronger and more resilient than in recent memory. The extraordinary circumstances we currently face mean that government support will be required to take advantage of global economic growth when it returns.’
December is traditionally the quietest month, but the figures still point to falling confidence among consumers.
‘The full-year new car sales figures for 2008 clearly show that demand was strong until consumer confidence dropped sharply during the final few months of the year as a result of worsening economic conditions,’ said Sue Robinson, director of the RMI’s National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).
‘This highlights how important it is for government to enact measures to help boost confidence. Consumers want assurance from the government that jobs are secure, that disposable income will not decline further, that general economic conditions will start to improve, and that credit will become more generally available.
‘Once this happens consumers will return to normal buying patterns.’
You can download the full sales figures as an Excel file here: salesfigures_december_08