Latest new car sales are due to show yet another monthly slump, despite the arrival of the new 09 number plates. New registrations in March 2009 are likely to be around 30% down on the March 2008 figure of more than 451,000.
The March decline, to be announced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), follows falls of 30.9% in January 2009 and 21.9% in February.
Despite a decline at the end of the year, the 2008 new car sales’ total held up well, reaching 2.13 million.
But with consumer confidence dented by the recession, the SMMT is forecasting the 2009 year-end figure will drop to 1.72 million.
The motor industry and motoring groups are hoping this month’s Budget will be the time the Government announces a car-scrappage scheme, whereby owners are given a financial incentive to swap their old car for a new, greener model.
A number of countries have already introduced scrappage schemes, including Germany where the initiative has helped new car sales soar 40% in March 2009.
New car sales are seen as a key indicator of consumer confidence. When the UK went into recession in the early 1990s, new car registrations dropped for 27 successive months.
At one point, sales that had reached an annual peak of 2.3 million in the late-1980s dipped as low as 1.5 million.
When sales finally picked up again it was the first sign that an economic recovery was beginning and annual registrations later soared to more than 2.5 million.
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