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February new registrations up 3.8%

Last month's new car registrations totalled 91,460 units, up 3.8% year on year in a month that normally represents under 4% of annual sales. The rise brought the year to date figure up 5.2% to 289,051 units.

Business registrations in February were up 47%, while fleet registrations rose only 0.5%, though they still accounted for the majority of new registrations overall. Registrations to private buyers remained stable in February, and are up 1.8% for the year to date. Diesels took 29.8% of the February market with 27,255, 20% up on February 2003.

Ford and Vauxhall both put on sales and recovered market share compared with a year ago, and VW gained sales too. Several of their competitors saw volume drop year on year, though March will be a much more accurate barometer of demand, and of competitive positions, than February. gained market share in February, as did VW, while sales were marginally down for several other brands.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan commented, “Strong growth in a traditionally small month has pushed the UK market forward once more. The road has been paved for a record March market of around 450,000 units, generating approximately £6 billion-worth of business.”

He added, “However, the industry is concerned that the DVLA has chosen March, one of the two busiest months of the year, to upgrade its IT systems used by dealers and fleets to register new cars. It's a bit like your local authority digging up the roads on the busiest day of the year. You know they're going to do it, you just can't understand why.”

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