SCOTTISH motorists are buying new cars at a faster rate than the rest of the UK in the latest indication of renewed confidence in economic recovery.
Figures on new car registrations in January show another year-on-year increase in such car sales north of the Border.
A total of 12,674 new cars were bought in Scotland in January, an increase of 9% on the same month last year, according to the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA). This outstripped the rest of the UK, which experienced a year-on-year increase of around 7.5%.
Douglas Robertson, chief executive of the SMTA, said this reflected the higher proportion of private buyers north of the Border.
He said: "Scotland tends to be greater than the rest of the UK in terms of private buyers, and when they have money in their pocket they like to spend it on a new car.
"In Scotland the market is split between about 52% private buyers and 48% trade buyers, whereas it's the other way round south of the Border."
The UK as a whole experienced an increase in sales of 7.6%, with 154,562 units registered against 143,643 for January 2013.
Mr Robertson added that buyers were increasingly trading in their old cars for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
He said: "Following 2013's increase in new car registrations we are delighted to see this trend continue into 2014. We believe that fuel efficiency is the driving factor and that more and more of the car-buying public is accepting this.
"As has been publicised a new car is on average 27% more fuel efficient than a seven-year-old model.
"There is a tremendous range of these fuel-efficient vehicles available in SMTA members' showrooms. We would encourage those consumers still thinking about buying a new car to go to these showrooms and find out for themselves how they can save on running costs by buying a new car."
Rural areas of Scotland continued to show the strongest increases in new car sales, a pattern that has been consistent since last summer.
In January, 185 new cars were registered in the Borders, an increase of 25% on January 2013. This was followed by a 19% year-on-year increase in Dumfries and Galloway, where 296 new cars were registered, and a 17% increase in Grampian where 1321 new cars were registered.
The Strathclyde region recorded the highest number of new car registrations - 6242 - but this was the second lowest year-on-year increase, of 6%. This contrasted with the Lothians region, which recorded a 17% year-on-year increase with 1607 new cars purchased.
The most popular new car in Scotland remained the Ford Fiesta, although sales of it have fallen from 740 in January 2013 to 702 last month.
Sales of the Ford Focus also halved, from 636 in January 2013 to 331 last month.
Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio and Ford Ka increased in popularity, with sales of the Clio in particular increasing 106% from 183 to 377.