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March plate change helps fleet registrations rise 3.2% in Q1

In total 171,728 fleet cars were registered last month, compared to 165,565 in March 2012 while the 3.2% rise year-to-date equates to 282,695 units compared to 273,898 units for the first three months of last year.

The sub-25 business sector also saw a rise in March, with registrations up 5.5% to 18,779 units compared to 17,802 for March 2012. This sector is also up year-to-date, with an impressive 12.4% rise to 27,847 from 24,774 for the same period last year.

However, the largest monthly rise was again seen in the retail sector, where sales rose 7.8% to 204,299 in March from 189,468 units in the same month last year. This sector also posted the largest year-to-date rise, up 11.2% to 294,656 from 264,884 units for the first three months last year.

As a result, the market share held by the fleet segment has fallen – down to 43.5% for March this year from 44.4% in March 2012. Year to date it’s also down to 46.7% from 48.6% for the first three months of 2012.

Overall the new car market has risen 7.4% for the first three months of 2013, reaching a total of 605,198 units.

‘UK new car registrations out-performed expectations in March, the first month of the new 13-plate. The market increased more than 5% on March 2012 to almost 395,000 units,’ said SMMT interim chief executive, Mike Baunton. ‘Despite ongoing economic concerns, consistent monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence as motorists are attracted to forecourts by new models and the latest technologies.’

Strong year-to-date performances were put in by carmakers including Citroen (13.3%), Fiat (13.9%), Honda (23.0%), Jaguar (23.8%), Land Rover (18.7%), Lotus (20.0%), Mitsubishi (44.8%), Suzuki (29.1%) and Vauxhall (19.7%).

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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.