New car sales bounce back after five months of decline ahead of Brexit

The new car market bounced back last month after five consecutive months of sales declines as motorists seem keen to lockdown a deal ahead of Brexit, new industry figures show.

New car sales rose by 1.4 per cent in February, which is traditionally a quiet month ahead of the March number plate change.

Some 1,164 more vehicles were registered compared to February 2018, bringing the total of new car registrations to 81,969, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

However, industry experts have warned that the resurgence for the sector will almost certainly short-lived. 

Some 1,164 more vehicles were registered last month compared to February 2018

James Fairclough, chief executive of used car dealer AA cars, said: ‘Whether drivers were spurred on by the mildest February in decades or were just keen to lockdown a deal before the uncertainty of the upcoming months, new car sales jumped by 1.4% on last year.’ 

He added: ‘While the withdrawal of government grants for plug-in hybrid vehicles and a winding down of incentives for electrics is doing little to impact demand for these cars at this stage, it’s important that the momentum in this area isn’t stifled by cost-cutting exercises.

‘Undoubtedly the year ahead will provide a challenging sales environment for big ticket item retailers.’ 

Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website said: ‘Only time will tell if this rapid growth in sales can be maintained, and it needs to be maintained if we are to stay on course for the 2040 switch-over.

‘Unfortunately, this momentum could be stopped in its tracks if we leave the EU without a deal in a few weeks time.’