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New car market reaches milestone in May

According to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT), UK new car registrations grew 11% to 180,111 units in May, marking the 15th successive month of growth and the largest May volume in six years.

Once again private new car demand saw the strongest growth and climbed 20.9%, outperforming pre-recession volumes recorded in 2007 – although May's total new car market remains down on 2007 levels.

Year-to-date figures show that registrations have risen 9.3% to 948,666 units. Although the SMMT says that year-to-date new car market remains 9.2% off 2007 volumes for the same period, trends among private buyers provide a good indication that consumer confidence is strong.

Looking at the fleet sector, registrations continued their steady growth, with a 3.2% rise last month to a total of 89,898. Year to date, the sector is up 2.8% to 447,677 units.

For the sub-25 business sector, registrations were up 9.4% in May to 6,011 and also saw an 11.4% rise year to date to 40,418 units.

The SMMT said that the growth in private car demand reflects a combination of factors, which may include 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. A switch from used to new may also be occurring, as the recession-induced dip in new car sales restricts the supply of used cars.

However the SMMT’s interim chief executive, Mike Baunton, added: ‘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.’

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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.