New car sales hopes rise on recovery of private registrations

RISING new car private sector demand – with corporate sales just below last year’s pace – has seen the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) increase its forecast for 2012 registrations.


April’s rise in new car sales – up 3.3% to 142,322 units – with private segment sales leading the way – up 14.8% to 61,810 – means that the SMMT is now predicting that full year sales will be 1.941 million units, 0.4% up on last year’s levels. Further 2.6% growth, to 1.999 million units, is forecast for the 2013 market.


April saw the third, and largest, increase this year in new car sales with January-April volumes up 1.4% (9,796 units) to 705,878 vehicles registered (2011: 696,082). Private new car registrations in the first third of the year are up 7.3% to 326,691 (2011: 304,443).


‘A strong April new car market has raised confidence across theUKmotor industry with registrations increasing 3.3%,’ said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.


‘We are seeing a steady increase in consumer confidence with growth in private demand, boosted by the arrival of a raft of new products. SMMT has increased its full year forecast to 1.95 million units, putting the market marginally ahead of 2011, indicating a period of relative stability.’


The growth in registrations comes on top of a weak 2011 performance. Total registrations to April are some 18% below the 2007, pre-recession level, but 15% above the low of 2009.


Fleet sales last month totalled 74,485, 3.4% down on a year ago (77,117) to leave 2012 volumes 1.2% down on last year at 348,383 (2011: 352,486). Meanwhile, business sector volumes fell 11.2% last month to 6,027 (2011: 6,788) to leave this year sales down 21.3% at 30,804 (2011: 39,153).


The market share for petrol cars grew in April (4.3%), although over the first four months of the year diesel and alternatively-fuelled car registrations have shown volume and market share growth, up 4.3% and 3% respectively with petrol engined sales down 1.6%.


The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling model in April and remains so over the first four months of 2012 followed by the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus. Ford was the leading car manufacturer last month and retains that position for the first four months of 2012.

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