The SMMT has accused the British Independent Motor Trade Association of not doing its homework after it claimed Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency data for January 1 to June 30 shows that in the first six months of the year 70,000 cars - most of them new - were independently registered on V55/5 forms and came from abroad, but within the European Union. Another 15,000 were sourced from countries such as Japan and the USA.
After analysing a four-week period of DVLA figures, and then applying those to a full 12-month period, the BIMTA concludes that 140,000 EU imports will have been registered by the end of the year - 16% of the new car market. Its methodology assumes that official dealers do not use DVLA V55/5 forms to register new cars.
But a spokesman for the SMMT said: 'It's nonsense - a wild guesstimate. You can't just take a four-week period and multiply it by 12. The association just hasn't looked at the data properly. We have a team of 20 people doing this and our forecast for the entire year is between 62,000 and 78,000 units.'
But the association, which represents almost 100 non-franchised dealers in the UK importing vehicles worth about £500 million a year, says its stands by its figures.
Spokesman Richard Moore said: 'This is the first time such a comprehensive analysis of imports has been undertaken. The public is sending a clear message to motor manufacturers that it's fed up paying artificially high prices. The industry as a whole has been slow to respond to demands to slash prices and is now paying the penalty.'