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New car sales buck trends to keep rising near record level

NEW car sales have continued to rise in Scotland and remain on course to ensure 2014 goes down as a record-breaking year.

Experts say that an increase in the number of car sales last month bucked the traditional trend of an August slowdown and the industry remains on track to sell 200,000 vehicles this year.

Figures from Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) showed that registrations of new cars totalled 6,450 units in August, an increase of 7.75 per cent compared with the same month last year, when 5,986 were registered.

The UK as a whole experienced an increase of 9.44 per cent, with 72,163 units registered against 65,937 for August last year.

Douglas Robertson, chief ­executive of the SMTA, said: "Once again we are pleased to see an increase of this size in August, which traditionally is a quiet month.

"This sort of increase makes us suspect that September will be a bumper month as the new '64' plate arrives, and whilst we do expect increases to be lower in the final quarter of the year, we still anticipate 2014 will be a very, very good year for the motor trade and for those consumers who have taken advantage of the many different deals available at SMTA members."

The most popular car in ­Scotland was the Ford Fiesta, with 472 new models taking to the road last month. In second place was the Ford Focus, with 250 sold, narrowly ahead of the 247 new Vauxhall Corsas purchased by drivers. However, Scots still have a taste for more expensive vehicles, with a number of cars at the very top range changing hands. According to the SMTA statistics, 13 new Porches were driven out of garages as were two Rolls-Royce cars, three Maseratis and one Lamborghini.

The majority of sales took place in and around Glasgow, with 3,233 transactions in Strathclyde, followed by 873 in Lothian. Overall, 135,206 cars have been sold north of the Border this year.

Euan Murray, relationship director at Barclays Corporate Banking Scotland, said this month was likely to see the number of car sales rise again.

He said: "August continued to see growth in new car sales, although inevitably will see fewer registrations than September, which is revving up to be a bumper month due to the hotly anticipated new plate change.

"The UK's passion for new cars remains strong, as consumers continue to make the most of attractive finance deals.

"I expect some natural cooling off in the coming months, and a future interest rate rise will have some impact as it will increase the cost of finance for car buyers."

Chris Sutton, managing director of Black Horse, one of the UK's leading motor finance providers, added: "There is a lot of discussion about when the car market will cool, given the record month-on-month increases that have been witnessed in the UK automotive sector, but for the moment we appear to be witnessing good news in the industry.

"Overall the car industry has a lot to be proud of in terms of sustained recovery, meeting consumer demand with the right mix of good finance offers that makes owning a car affordable and manufacturers working hard to deliver innovative and fuel-­efficient cars.

"We will now have to wait and see what next month's figures deliver for the all-important September plate change month, which we would anticipate will bring good news for motor dealers and manufacturers alike.

"Long-term, the motor industry will need to start considering how it will continue to maintain this very positive momentum and attract customers to consider buying a new car."

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