A surge in demand among private buyers underpins an 11 per cent year-on-year rise in new car registrations

The number of new cars registered in the UK increased by 11 per cent last month compared to May 2012. It was the 15th successive month of growth for the domestic car market, and a total of 180,111 units were registered, bringing the year-to-date total to 948,666 units.

May’s figures were underpinned by a strong rise in demand for new vehicles among private buyers, although registrations in the fleet and business sectors also posted modest increases.

Private demand in May went up by 20.9 per cent year-on-year, taking that sector of the market to levels not seen since 2007, before the economic slump took hold. The overall market, including the fleet and business sectors, was three per cent behind May 2007.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which collates the monthly registration figures, the growth could be down to several factors, including: consumers returning to the new car market after delaying regular replacement cycles; motorists replacing vehicles bought under the Scrappage Incentive Scheme; motorists switching to more efficient vehicles in every class and attractive offers catching the attention of buyers with funds and access to finance.

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Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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A switch from used to new cars may also be occurring, as the recession-induced dip in new car sales which occurred a few years ago begins to have a knock-on effect on the supply of used cars.

The SMMT’s interim chief executive, Mike Baunton, was cautiously optimistic about the market’s prospects for the rest of the year: “While it is clear that buying confidence among UK motorists is very strong, continued economic uncertainty abroad, particularly in the rest of Europe, will mean that manufacturers remain cautious about performance in the second half of 2013."

Most car segments have posted increases in the opening five months of the year, with small cars seeing the strongest growth. Registrations of petrol-powered cars have also performed encouragingly, up 14 per cent over 2012 levels.

The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling model in both the month and year-to-date, ahead of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa.

UK’s best-selling new cars for May 2013

1 Ford Fiesta 9316 units

2 Ford Focus 7522

3 Vauxhall Corsa 6634

4 Volkswagen Golf 5247

5 Vauxhall Astra 5211

6 Nissan Qashqai 4243

7 BMW 3-series 3828

8 Volkswagen Polo 3201

9 Peugeot 208 3082

10 Audi A3 3055

 

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Comments
3

8 June 2013

The latest Golf, therefore, doesn’t arrive like a desperate lunge from the punch-drunk; it is instead the dominator reinforcing its position of power. I love Volkswagen Golf.

10 June 2013

the top 3 sell well due to the huge discounts dealers give on them.

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19 June 2013

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Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week