"This result confirms our view that the low figures in January were in fact a result of payback from strong year-end manufacturer incentives in December. The outlook for 2004 remains modestly positive with a small increase in sales still expected," said J.D.Power-LMC's Pete Kelly.
Besides the UK, demand in Spain was strong again in February, though the French market fall was particularly disappointing and the Italian market continues to lag behind last year's levels. The German market improved following a dire result in January but the selling rate remained relatively weak at less than 3.2m units a year.
Overall, Kelly sees the West European market continuing a process of stabilisation after turbulence last year.