New car registrations fell by 7.7% year-on-year in February to 63,424 units but the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the decline wasn’t as bad as expected.
February typically accounts for just 3% of annual sales, ahead of the March plate change.
Registrations over the first two months of 2011 were down 10.2% to 192,235 units. The first six months of 2011 are expected to be down by 8.3% before picking up in the latter half of the year.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “The UK motor industry is looking for a strong March market to help boost confidence and kick start demand for the new 11-plate.
“February new car registrations were better than expected and while below 2010 levels, they were significantly ahead of 2009 and on an improving trend.
“This month’s Budget will be critical in determining consumer and business confidence and the ongoing stability of the market. We’re looking for certainty on motoring taxes, a freeze on fuel duty and measures that support business investment and access to finance and credit.”
- In February 2010 the scrappage scheme accounted for almost 20% of the market. With those registrations removed, the 2011 market would be up 13.2%. The 2011 February new car market was 14.5% above the 2009 February outturn, but some 18.1% away from the 1999-2010 average for the month.
- Fleet volumes recovered in February, up 8.6%, but private demand continued to decline.
- Demand for the mini and supermini segment cars, boosted by the scrappage scheme a year ago, continued to fall in February. Registrations of executive, luxury saloon, sports cars and MPVs showed double digit growth in the month.
- Demand for diesel cars rose by 8.9% in February and their market share was once again over 50% in the month. The Volkswagen Golf was the best seller in February, with the Ford Focus number one over the year-to-date.
- Vauxhall registered the most cars in February with a 23.42% rise to 9,812 units. Volkswagen was in second place with 7,569 units with a 6.13% rise and Ford registered the third largest amount with 7,542 units, which was a 23.93% decline for the Blue Oval brand.