New car registrations fell by 7.9% in March with 366,101 new 11-reg cars being registered during the month according to figures released by SMMT. March results have bettered expectations, though – up 5.9% on 2010 when scrappage registrations are excluded.
Registrations in the first quarter have fallen 8.7 per cent to 558,336 units while the 2011 market is forecast to drop 5.0% to 1.93m units.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The UK saw 366,101 new cars registered in March, demonstrating sustained demand in what is traditionally the biggest month of the year.
‘Despite a dip versus 2010, the market remains on course to meet SMMT’s forecast for the year with motorists buying increasingly fuel-efficient and low emitting vehicles across every segment.’
The Ford Fiesta has regained its number one place from the VW Golf in the sales figures with 19,676 units registered in March, and the Fiesta is the new leader in the year-to-date sales with 27,924 units being registered.
March ahead of forecast and 2009 levels, but down on 2010 market
New car registrations declined in each of the past nine months. Demand for the new ‘11’ plate was just ahead of SMMT’s forecast by 1.4%. Volumes in March were down 7.9% on last year. However, with the 13.0% of 2010 scrappage related volumes removed, the market was up 5.9%.
Registrations in quarter one were down 53,212 units or 8.7%, but at 558,336 units, were over 11,000 units ahead of expectations. The market is expected to decline further in Q2, before stabilising and recovering in the second half of the year to show a net decline of 5.0% to 1.93 million units. SMMT will review its forecasts this month.
While comparisons with 2009 and 2010 are distorted by the scrappage scheme, volumes remain well below pre-recession levels. Between 2004 and 2008, March averaged almost 450,000 units and the annual outturn was above 2.4 million units.
Fleet and business registrations have shown modest growth in the first quarter of the year whilst private demand has weakened post scrappage scheme. The decline in private demand was in line with industry expectations.
Average new car CO2 emissions fell to 140.3g/km in Q1, a 3.4% reduction on a year ago.
Diesel car volumes rose by 7.9% in Q1, as their market share rose from 41.1% to 48.5%. Alternatively fuelled cars achieved a record 1.4% share of the total market in the quarter, after volumes rose by 27.3%
The Ford Fiesta was the best selling model in the month and Q1. Supermini volumes fell during March, although their market share edged up to 38.4%. Lower medium cars saw a sharp drop in demand, likely linked to changeover to new models, whilst demand for luxury saloon, MPVs and executive cars rebounded.
Top ten best sellers March