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2012 new car registrations hit four-year high

car purchase

UK new car registrations rose by 5.3% in 2012 to 2.04 million units and according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders it was boosted by genuine consumer demand.

Private registrations increased by 12.9% last year and the market was also up by 3.7% in December to 123,557 units.

Annual volumes were at their highest since 2008, and recorded largest percentage increase since 2001.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “Boosted by strong consumer demand, the market grew at its fastest rate for 11 years with innovative, fuel-efficient cars keeping buyers in showrooms.

“Looking ahead to 2013, we anticipate the market will hold firm, with manufacturers and dealers working hard to deliver quality and value to motorists.”

Sue Robinson, Director of the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: "Retail demand drove the UK car market in 2012 whilst fleet sales were flat.

“The overall market for 2012 showed encouraging progress. It indicated that competitive offers by manufacturers where persuade retail buyers into the showrooms. Strong finance offers are also winning over consumers, particularly in the form of Personal Contract Purchase Plans.

“Looking into 2013 consumers will still need strong encouragement to commit to big ticket purchases such as cars. Consumer confidence is still fragile and competitive pricing and strong incentives will be important in convincing customers to buy a new car.”

New car market grows more than 100,000 units in 2012 after private registration boost

Demand was particularly strong for the mini segement (+54.2%), supermini (+5.6%) and dual purpose (+21.1%) segment cars in 2012.

The 2012 outturn was 1.6% ahead of SMMT’s 2.013 million unit forecast, as set in October 2012 and 6.5% above the forecast set at the start of 2012.

UK-built cars saw volumes rise 11.1% in 2012, boosting their market share to 13.5%. Despite growing, the 2012 new car market was still 14.9% or some 360,000 units below the 2007 market outturn.

Registrations of alternatively-fuelled cars rose 9.4% in 2012 achieving 1.4% market share, a new high. Diesel cars took a record 50.8% market share, just up on 2011’s 50.6%.

The Ford Fiesta was the best selling model of 2012, retaining the position held since 2009. 

The 2013 market is set to be challenging, the SMMT anticipates performance on-par with 2012. SMMT’s first 2013 forecast will be issued in late January.

Top 10 best sellers of 2012

  1. Fiesta 109,265
  2. Corsa 89,434
  3. Focus 83,115
  4. Astra 63,023
  5. Golf 62,021
  6. Qashqai 45,675
  7. 3 Series 44,521
  8. Polo 41,901
  9. C-Class 37,261
  10. 1 Series 34,488 


Head to the SMMT website to download the full new car registration figures for December and 2012.

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