Scrappage scheme: one week on

* Interest in scheme growing * Dealerships and websites busy * Scheme not even officially started...

Scrappage scheme: one week on

The scrappage scheme, announced by Alistair Darling in last week's Budget, has already sparked car-buyers' interest, with dealers reporting increases in visits and manufacturers recording a rise in traffic to their websites.

The scheme gives customers up to 2000 off a new car, provided the car they scrap is over 10 years old - 1000 of the incentive comes from the Government, the other 1000 comes from manufacturers.

The scheme will be run on a first-come, first-served basis and will end when the pot of cash the Government has set aside for the scheme dries up.

Car-buyers seem keen to make the most of the incentives. Although the scrappage scheme hasn't officially started, Hyundai is reporting that enquiries are up 400% at its dealerships since the scheme was announced.

Other manufacturers are saying it's too early to gauge if the scrappage scheme is leading to an increase in sales, but many have had an increase in traffic to their websites.

When Ford's scrappage section on its website went live it was attracting the same number of visitors as its most popular page within a few days.

Toyota says it's seen a 'major increase in traffic' to its website after the scrappage scheme was announced, while Audi noticed significant interest in the scrappage area of its website.

Peugeot says it's recorded a 'massive increase' in its website traffic and says its dealers are getting between 60 and 80 more enquires since the scheme was announced.

Nissan too reported more visits to its dealers since the Budget announcement, but noted that many visitors were trying to find the cheapest car possible.

If this is correct, and a scrappage scheme only interests those customers wanting a very cheap new car, it may not provide the stimulus to the whole car-making industry that many had hoped for.

Although no official announcement has been made about when the scrappage scheme actually starts, insiders believe that May 18 will be the date when customers can begin to buy cars under the scheme. An announcement may come tomorrow (Friday).