Private registrations were up 4.0 per cent to 358,505 units, boosting their market share to 53.2 per cent. Supermini registrations rose 13.9 per cent, taking a record 34.3 per cent share of the UK market.
SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan says: “The marked growth in private registrations shows continued consumer confidence in the new car market. March was another record month for registrations and has put the UK firmly on track to reach the 2.4 million units forecast for 2003”.
That figure represents the third highest annual total on record. In 2002 registrations hit 2,563,631 units. Diesel penetration is expected to reach 28 per cent of overall sales in 2003, or 672,000 units.
Since the bi-annual plate change was introduced, the March market has gone from 370,000 in 1999, 401,972 units in 2000, 408,024 units in 2001 and 423,727 units in 2002 to 438,075 units in 2003.
Alan Pulham, franchised dealer director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), said: “The car market last month has defied the many commentators who had predicted a downturn in sales, due to the impending war, council tax and national insurance contribution increases and the general economic climate”.