Diesel Cars And Supermini's To Lead '55' Plate Charge

New car buyers are all set for the 55 plate rush, and figures released today by SMMT show that supermini and diesel models are likely to lead the charge. This September the industry expects around 420,000 new cars to leave showrooms, making this the second busiest month of the year. And as fuel prices continue to soar, more buyers are thinking small - and thinking diesel.

While the industry has been feeling the pinch this year, diesel new car sales continue to defy a drop in sales. From January to July, the market for diesels rose 4.9 per cent from 489,272 to 513,275 units, compared to an overall market down 5.9 per cent. Since 1999 diesel sales have almost trebled1 as buyers enjoy 20–30 per cent better fuel economy, as well as more model choice and greater engine refinement.

Demand for supermini models and small family cars has also soared. In 1997 superminis accounted for 575,597 units at a time when the average price of petrol was 61.8p per litre. At the end of 2004 unleaded cost 80.9p and sales of models like the Fiesta and Corsa had risen to 839,604 units, up by more than a quarter of a million.

Today, many forecourts charge more than 90p per litre. But while fuel prices continue to hit motorists, the good news is that fuel consumption is improving. In 1998, a new car averaged 34.5 miles to the gallon; in 2004 this had risen to 37.8, an improvement of nearly 10 per cent.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan commented, 'Fuel costs have risen steadily in the last decade and now petrol has breached the four pound a gallon mark for the first time. So, while the mantra for many September customers will be big and beautiful regardless of fuel costs, for many more bangs for your buck will be the priority.'

1 September 2005 Staff
 

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