UK new car sales rise at fastest rate for nine years

British consumers are buying new cars at the fastest rate in nine years as they exploit cheap finance deals to buy models with lower running costs, reports The Guardian.

New car sales jumped 6.3 per cent in June to 228,291 vehicles with the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, and Ford Focus topping shopping lists.

It drove the best first-half performance since 2005, with sales up 10.6 per cent at 1.29m cars according to the figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said the car market was increasing faster than expected so far in 2014. The trade body has forecast a 6% increase in new cars sales to 2.4m vehicles in 2014 overall.

Hawes said: “Improving economic conditions have helped propel the UK new car market to a strong first half-year performance. The overall market has risen faster than we were expecting but … growth is showing signs of stabilising around our forecast level.”

Sales of alternatively fuelled cars rose by 51.3 per cent in the first half of the year to 23,337.

Paul Brotherton, head of business strategy at car finance company Black Horse, said greater access to loans was opening up the new car market to more customers.

“We had anticipated that the new car sales market may slow down ahead of the September plate change but today’s figures are welcome news albeit surprising. Buying a new car has become more accessible to both new and more experienced car buyers as manufacturers continue to offer competitive finance deals that make owning a new car affordable.”

However, household finances have remained under pressure despite the economic recovery as wage rises continue to lag behind inflation.