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New car registrations in March boost UK sales

The rise exceeds market expectations by 6 per cent.

There were 372,835 new car registrations in the UK in March – a year-on-year increase of 1.8 per cent, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

In most years, March is the busiest month for registrations, averaging almost a fifth of annual volume. The March plate-change, which exceeded industry expectations by 6 per cent, helped boost first-quarter volumes by 0.9 per cent. Yet registrations remain 17 per cent off the 2007 pre-recession total.

Around 1.5 million cars and commercial vehicles and three million engines are produced annually in the UK, accounting for 9 per cent of the country’s total exports. Registrations of UK-built cars increased by 12.3 per cent in March, with their market share rising to 14.6 per cent from 13.3 per cent a year ago.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of SMMT, said: “Domestic demand for new cars is showing signs of recovery, with private buyers increasingly returning to take advantage of a wide range of excellent products and, this month, the new 12-plate.” 

By model, Ford Fiesta was ranked first with 53,830 registrations in March and 82,848 registrations in first quarter of 2012; Vauxhall and Volkswagen were ranked second and third.

Registrations have risen in four of the past eight months but the underlying market trend is more about stability than growth, said a SMMT spokesperson.