New car registrations increased by 0.1% in August to 59,433 units in what is typically a small volume month ahead of the plate-change.
According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) the 0.1% rise in the new car market in August was down on the pace of recent monthly gains, but is broadly on par with expectations.
Private registrations were up by 12.2% to 27,562 units. However, fleet and business registrations dropped by -8.5% and 4.7% respectivley.
August registrations mark the sixth successive month of growth and the seventh rise in the first eight months of this year.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “The economic outlook remains challenging, but vehicle manufacturers and dealers are working hard to sustain demand and deliver great value products and services to customers.”
Over the year-to-date growth was evident across all fuel types, notably alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFV) on a percentage basis – up 15.3%, and diesels on a volume basis – up 29,205 units.
New models boosted the AFV sector and the mini (up 35.4%) and dual purpose (up 19.7%) segments during the first eight months of the year, while the supermini segment showed the largest volume gain, up 21,365 units.
The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling model in August and over the year-to-date.
The UK market has increased by 3.3% to 1,260,997 units from January-August, up more than 40,000 units on 2011.
The SMMT believes the new car market "remains firm", ahead of plate change in September and is on track to reach its forecast of 1.97 million units this year.
Land Rover posted the strongest growth in August with new car registrations up by 55.12% to 591 units. Suzuki also posted good figures for August with volumes up 50.48% to 948 units. Fellow Japanese manufacturer Lexus also posted growth of 48.12% with 197 units and Honda was up by 43.35% with 1,412 units.
Drop in volume
Clrearly Saab was always going to see a big drop, down by 92.39% with seven cars registered in August.
Mitsubishi recorded one of the biggest drops down 38.22% to 118 units, Renault was down 34.46% to 1,086 units, Alfa Romeo was down 29.94% to 234 units and Chevrolet saw a 27.81% drop to 353 units.
Scotland led the growth for the UK in August with new car registrations up 9.93% to 5,755 units. Wales also saw a regional increase up 5.88% to 1,926 units.
England saw a 0.83% decrease to 48,058 units and Northern Ireland experienced a 0.56% drop to 48,058 new cars registered in August.
Sue Robinson, RMI director, said: "It is encouraging that the new car market remained stable in what is traditionally a low volume months for car sales.
“August is traditionally a small market as buyers wait for the plate change on September 1 before purchasing a new vehicle. We anticipate consumers returning to the showrooms in the Autumn with consumers showing interest in value for money, easy to maintain and fuel efficient vehicles.”
David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at Deloitte, said: “Traditionally a quiet month for new registrations in the lead up to the September new plate registrations, the 0.1% increase in August does not come as a great surprise, but is not cause for concern either.
"Manufacturers and retailers should be somewhat relieved that UK new registrations have not declined, in contrast to other European countries. Car sales in Germany remain challenging; sales were down 5% from August 2011, France down 11% and Italy down 20%.
“Manufacturers and retailers will be looking for a strong September, but reliance on the two busiest months of the year is a risk, particularly when consumers remain hesitant. Any stimulus the UK Government and manufacturers can develop together to improve sales would be well received by all.”