Last year's figure was 2.17 million and predictions are that it will fall to 2.15 million next year, 1.95 million in 2000 and 1.8 million in 2001. In 2002 new car sales will climb to 1.9 million and reach 2.0 million units again in 2003. New car sales in the first nine months of this year are 3.7% up on the same period last year at 1,843,480 (1,777,062).
CAP economist Ramesh Notra said: 'The initial slowdown will be quite sharp during the first three months of 1999, which will probably cause the industry some alarm when comparing figures with early 1998, although sales will pick up during the latter part of the year. Although we are still forecasting economic growth during 1999 the continuing slowdown will turn into recession in the year 2000 when new car sales will dip below two million for the first time since 1995 and will fall further in 2001.'