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Fleet car sales hold steady in 2012 while consumer demand soars

The new car registrations figures released by the SMMT show a 5.3% rise in 2012 to a total of 2.04 million units – the highest growth since 2001 and only the second rise since the recession – thanks to a 12.9% rise in private demand.

This compares to fleet sales, which saw just a 0.6% rise for the year, while registrations within the sub-25 fleet sector declined 9.5% in 2012.

The rise in private registrations has led to a drop in the market share held by the fleet sector, down to 50.2% from 52.5% last year.

For the month of December, private registrations were also up, by 12.5%, while the fleet market actually dropped 0.3% and the sub-set sector was down 16.5%.

‘More than two million new cars were registered in the UK during 2012, up 5.3% on the previous 12 months and the best result since recession struck in 2008,’ said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. ‘Boosted by strong consumer demand, the market grew at its fastest rate for 11 years with innovative, fuel-efficient cars keeping buyers in showrooms.’

Commenting on the forecasts for the 2013 market, the SMMT said that conditions will be challenging but that it anticipates performance on par with 2012.

David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at Deloitte, echoed the SMMT's comments, saying: 'With mixed messages coming from economic statistics – unemployment numbers falling whilst output data hovers around the borders of low growth/contraction, it is unlikely that the UK will see any major growth in new car sales during 2013. Indeed, following the best year for new car sales since 2007, there is a strong likelihood that 2013 will see a reduction in the numbers of new cars sold. Artificial stimuli, such as pre-registrations or self-registrations, are not possible on a sustained basis so we expect them to decrease during 2013.'

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.