The UK’s motor industry has celebrated a year of growth with February enjoying the 12th consecutive month of increased new car registrations.
The month ended at 66,749 registrations, 7.9% ahead of February 2012, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Although February is typically the smallest volume monthly market, ahead of the registration plate-change in March, it was boosted by private demand again, said the SMMT, and secured the highest growth in the private market since the end of the Scrappage Incentive Scheme in spring 2010.
“UK new car registrations have risen every month for the last year with February continuing the trend, growing 7.9% year-on-year boosted by the highest increase in private consumer demand since spring 2010,” said Mike Baunton, interim chief executive, SMMT.
“However, February is traditionally a low volume month as motorists look forward to the plate-change in March, but attractive new car deals are sustaining the market.
New models are delivering ever greater fuel efficiency, practicality, refinement, technology and predictable ownership costs, so motorists are seeing the benefit of new car purchases.”
Sue Robinson, director of the RMI National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: “In previous years February has tended to report a low market in unit numbers, particularly in retail sales, as consumers wait for the plate change on March 1.
“Therefore it is encouraging that February experienced such increased sales with the market supported by strong manufacturer deals and offers that are encouraging consumers to buy.
“We expect market growth to continue at a similar level during March with dealers already reporting boosted sales.
"There continues to be a strong demand from consumers.”
It was a view shared by Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays.
He said: “With the launch of the new plate in March, we expect sales to continue to hold firm.
"The 13-plate is already proving popular with many of our clients reporting early signs of strong sales.”
The big brands.
Ford and Vauxhall each added more than 1,000 registrations, with the former growing 11.7% or 1,048 units year-on-year to 10,005 cars and the latter adding 1,855 units, a 26.1% rise to 8,957 after low sales in February 2012.
Mark Ovenden, Ford of Britain managing director, said: “Ford is maintaining its sales discipline in a fiercely competitive market by driving up its share of more profitable retail sales.
"This strategy is supported by the launches of award-winning vehicles and technologies and the unrivalled strength of our dealer network.”