UK annual car sales fell by 21%, compared with 15% in Scotland
Car sales in Scotland declined by 15% last year, falling to their lowest level since 2000.
In December, sales were 33% down on the same month in the previous year, according to figures from the Scottish Motor Trade Association.
The overall UK figure showed a decrease of 21% in annual sales.
SMTA chief executive Douglas Robertson called on the government to ensure that banks released more finance and credit to consumers.
Across Scotland, 170,657 new cars were registered last year, compared to 200,803 the previous year.
A total of 7,442 new cars were registered north of the border in December, compared with 11,091 in the same period of 2007 - representing a 32.9% decrease.
Mr Robertson said: "There can be no doubt that 2008 has been a very disappointing year for the retail motor industry.
"Whilst the chancellor's reduction in VAT has made a difference, that difference is very small.
"What is needed to boost consumer confidence is for the banks and finance houses to release more cash and credit to consumers and we would urge the government to ensure that the banks do so."
He claimed the industry employed 600,000 people in the UK.
"It is time the government took action to assist in securing these jobs rather than listen only to motor manufacturers who employ less than a third of that number," he added.
"We do not believe that any further reduction in base lending interest rates will in itself be enough to give the much-needed boost to consumer or business levels of confidence.
"We would suggest that such rate movement must be aligned with an immediate relaxation of access to acceptable and affordable credit for both consumers and commerce which will then steer our economy towards recovery."