New car sales in 2010 were up by 1.8 per cent compared with 2009.
The market rose by 35,847 units to 2,030,846 last year, although sales in December were down by 18 per cent to 123,817 vehicles.
This is a trend that has been attributed to the end of the scrappage incentive scheme; first-half figures rose by 19.9 per cent before falling by 13.8 per cent in the second half with the termination of the scrappage scheme.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said, “2010 was a year of recovery for the motor industry, although economic conditions remain extremely challenging.”
The market is expected to decline this year, with forecasts predicting deficits of five per cent to 1.93 million units, as troubled economic conditions continue to plague the market. The latter half of the year, however, should see strengthened demand.
Last year’s sales figure marks the industry’s first growth since 2007, but this is still some 15 per cent down on pre-recession levels.
The growing availability of fuel-efficient cars played its part in 2010’s recovery, particularly within the fleet and business markets, and CO2 emissions fell a further 3.5 per cent to an average of 144.2g/km - 20.3 per cent below the level in 2000.
UK-built cars performed well in the 2009 sales charts. Figures for cars built in the UK were up by 17.4 per cent year on year and by 7.4 per cent in December; this represents the highest market share since 2005.
The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling new car for a second successive year and Ford was also the best-selling brand. Vauxhall’s Astra was the top seller in December, though, and Vauxhall was the top brand that month.