New car sales in Scotland leapt by almost a quarter last month as the economy began its slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nearly 23,000 new cars were registered in Scotland in March, up from just under 18,500 over the same month last year and representing a bounce of 23.5%
The figures, released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show the biggest increase in sales happened in Strathclyde, where they leapt by 45%.
Tayside dealerships benefited from a 17% boost, with 1,803 cars flying of forecourts.
The picture in Fife was not as rosy, however. The kingdom was one of only two Scottish regions (along with Dumfries and Galloway) to see sales fall. They were down just over seven percent, from 1,119 to 1,037.
Scotland’s car market dramatically outperformed that of the rest of the UK, which only saw a 10.5% uplift in sales last month.
The Vauxhall Corsa retained its place as Scotland’s top seller for the umpteenth month in a row, racking up 1,083 sales across Scotland – nearly double the 683 of its rival the Ford Fiesta.
The sales figures come the day after lockdown restrictions allowed car dealerships to reopen for the first time in months.
General manager of Glenford Forfar Alastair Mackie said the encouraging sales figures show the green shoots of recovery were emerging.
He said: “It’s early days yet. We’ve only been open two days and it’s been quiet – though it’s that cold outside I wouldn’t even come car shopping myself.
“We managed to do okay through the worst of the pandemic. We have a loyal customer base and we were able to do a lot over the phone and through email.
“We sold a lot of cars during the June to October period when we were able to open. There seemed to be a lot of pent-up demand.
“We’ve been able to sell established cars to repeat buyers. Where things have been difficult is with a completely new model like the Puma, or a new version of a car, such as the new Kuga. In those cases people want to be able to test drive the car to see what it’s like before they buy it, which is perfectly understandable. Now that dealerships are open again we would expect sales of these cars, which are excellent models, to start picking up.”
Bruce Ewart runs Autosales of Kirriemuir, which specialises in Subaru and Isuzu sales. The business has been in his family since 1959 when his grandfather bought it. His father Barrie took over in 1992 and still helps with the day to day running of the dealership.
He said: “We’ve definitely seen an uplift in sales. Things have been getting a wee bit better month on month since December. Most of our sales are online and we have a lot of repeat buyers so we were fortunate in doing fairly well when the industry as a whole was going through quite a major downturn.
“That said, our petrol station didn’t do nearly as well as usual because no one was going anywhere.”