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New car sales figures indicate market growth

SMMT figures show growth in new car sales

Monthly and quarterly sales rise above expectations, reflecting increased consumer confidence

New car registration figures for March show a rise in registrations of 5.9 per cent compared to March 2012.

The figures, released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show that a total of 394,806 cars were registered last month, compared to 372,835 a year ago.

For 2013 as a whole, British new car registrations have also risen; where 563,556 had been registered in the first three months of 2012, the number for the first quarter of 2013 is 605,198.

This represents a rise of 7.4 per cent, a batter-than-expected increase. March 2013 was also the 13th consecutive month of growth in British new car registrations.

SMMT interim chief executive, Mike Baunton said of the results “consistent monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence.”

The statistics indicate a notable growth in the sales of petrol-engined cars, reflecting increased demand for the raft of new downsized turbo petrols. In the first quarter of 2012, 271,486 petrol cars were registered.

For this year, that figure has risen by 32,570 cars, or 12.1 per cent, to 304,356. Diesel registrations climbed by 3 per cent year-on-year, from 283,872 to 292,403.

Ford’s Fiesta remained the best-seller for March 2013, and for the year-to-date. Last month saw 22,748 examples of the supermini registered, contributing to its 2013 total of 34,309 so far.

Notable appearances in the SMMT figures for March include the BMW 1-Series (eighth most popular, with 7001 cars registered) and the Nissan Qashqai, which ranked sixth in the list (8465 registered) despite having now been on sale for nearly six years.

The year-to-date figures show the Mercedes C-Class is the most popular executive car in Britain; it has achieved 10,301 registrations in 2013 and therefore claimed ninth in the overall standings.

Matt Bird