Well, we knew the car industry was in trouble, and that in the last quarter of 2008 car sales fell off a cliff. But it has now been confirmed that overall sales for the UK in 2008 fell by 272,212 units, or 11.3%. December figures alone showed a drop of 21.2% year on year.
These figures represent the lowest sales figures for a decade.
Sales figures had actually held up reasonably well until the last few months of the year. Sue Robinson, director of the RMI’s National Franchised Dealers Association, said:
“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.
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.”
And she’s not wrong. Except that luxury car sales actually started to drop significantly somewhat sooner than mainstream cars, which shows on the overall years sales. Aston Martin were down 28.54%, Bentley 26.57% and Land Rover over 30%, although Jaguar actually saw sales rise by 8.73%
Ford ran out the year with the biggest market share (14.52%) and the top selling car (the Focus), closely followed by Vauxhall. And Audi pretty much bucked the trend, with overall sales almost exactly the same as in 2007 despite a 10% drop in market share.
It all makes gloomy reading for the industry, but we knew that anyway. But there are a few chinks of light. Trade values have firmed up a fair bit in the last few months, and all the incentives floating around are starting to have an impact. It looks like we’re at the bottom.
The only way is up!