Car salesmen are celebrating in the rosy glow of the April auto sales data, published Wednesday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which reports a continued upward surge of 16% during the month.

The SMMT has subsequently raised its forecast for 2002 by fifty thousand units to 2.4 million – the anticipated increase being driven mainly by new company car taxation leading employers to switch to smaller cars.

Professor Garel Rhys of Cardiff University Business School, predicts that total sales this year could hit an all-time record – perhaps as high as 2.5m – if the economy doesn’t blow a gasket.

“These sales are underpinned by the vibrancy of the UK economy,” he said. “They are clearly being driven by private buyers and the confidence of consumers is still high.” Earlier this year the prescient Prof foretold that new car sales would slip below 2001’s record total of 2.46 million.

Crowed SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan: “After nineteen consecutive months of growth, Britain has emerged as the second-largest new car market in Europe. Although the current rate of growth cannot last forever, with such a strong start to the year, 2002 looks set to be one of the best performing on record.”

Private car sales (consumer-to-consumer) also soared, leaping 24.5% in April to 208,976, the nineteenth successive month of growth.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff