Figures released by the UK Government show that orders under the UK's car and light van scrappage scheme have hit 154,927 units.

When seen against a spending budget of GBP300m for some 300,000 vehicles between 18 May and 31 March 2010, that suggests that funding take-up is now over the halfway point, but with much more than half of the allocated time period still left to run.

That means that running out of public money to fund the scheme later this year or in early 2010 is a distinct possibility.

The regional breakdowns, available today for the first time, show that the scheme has proved popular with car buyers across the UK with take-up highest in the South East (18%), the East of England (12%), the North West (11%) and South West (11%). These figures reflect a pattern that is broadly in line with national levels of car ownership, with the highest participation rates for the scrappage scheme in regions with the highest levels of car ownership.

Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business said: "I'm pleased that we have already achieved over 150,000 new car orders. This is a great deal for manufacturers and dealers, not to mention the customers.

"The scheme has contributed to the 13.5% jump in car manufacturing and the first growth in new car registrations since April 2008."

The additional data also reveal that on average, new cars bought under the scheme have CO2 emissions that are 25% lower than the cars scrapped. The average CO2 figure for scrapped cars is estimated to be at least 179 g/km, compared to a much lower 133.9 g/km emissions average for cars bought through the scheme.

The UK scheme, with GBP300m from Government and matched funding from manufacturers, is intended to provide immediate support on a short-term basis to boost the car industry and its supply chain during the downturn and stimulate demand. It will also get older vehicles off the road and encourage consumers to invest in new, safer, and potentially more environmentally friendly models.

The 154,927 orders made since the beginning of the scheme refers to the period since the Budget announcement, covering the 23rd April to 2nd August.

However, while take-up may be strong, analysts will continue to debate the extent to which the scheme has led to incremental sales growth this year or merely helped to subsidise purchases that would have happened anyway - either this year or next. 

See also: UK: Scrappage scheme extension plea made