The UK car market is continuing to post healthy growth figures according to data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
New car registrations in February showed an increase of 7.9 per cent compared with the same period last year.
February was the twelfth consecutive month of growth and came on the back of rising private sales, despite the plate change in March. Traditionally, February offers the lowest sales volumes. Last year just 3 per cent of all registrations occurred in February; it gives some insight into the marketing power of the plate change to note that 18 per cent of 2012 registrations happened in March.
Of total February sales of 66,749 units, private sales increased by 28.9 per cent to 29,282 units, while by contrast combined fleet and business sales fell 4.5 per cent to 37,467. In a sign that private buyers are preferring to fuel their cars with petrol, sales of petrol cars grew by 20.5 per cent, while alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids or full electric) did better again, with sales rising by 26.6 percent to 834 units.
The greatest demand is for superminis. The segment accounts for 35.6 per cent of the market, though smaller city cars posted growth during February of 135.7 per cent, again reflecting strong private sales.
It's therefore unsurprising to find those manufacturers with ranges featuring small cars did well in February. Vauxhall saw its sales rise 26 per cent over last year – from 7102 to 8957 units – whilst Hyundai and Suzuki saw increases of 49 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.
There seems little pattern to those firms posting sales losses. Prestige manufacturers Porsche and Audi both experienced falls of 25 per cent, but budget marques also struggled. Chevrolet sales were down from 475 to 249 units (a fall of 49 per cent) and MG sold just nine cars this February, plummeting from 103 in 2012.
The SMMT predicts 13-plate sales will be slightly up on last year's 12-plate registrations.
February 2013's UK best sellers
1 Ford Focus – 3853 units sold
2 Ford Fiesta – 3655
3 Vauxhall Corsa – 3214
4 VW Golf – 2413
5 Vauxhall Astra – 2181
6 Nissan Qashqai – 1856