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UK car registrations are “ray of light” in Europe, says Deloitte

The SMMT data shows that total new car registrations were up to 163,357 units last month, with April having secured the strongest growth in 14 months as buying cycles and market volatility combined to boost uptake.

The growth followed a further rise in private registrations, up almost a third on April last year.

In response, David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader for Deloitte, said the UK remains a ray of light in a gloomy European market, commenting: 'As the European retail market struggles to reduce its contraction below double digits, the UK market continues to defy the expectation that a similar level of decline might be experienced here.Indeed, were it not for the growth in UK sales, the European decline would be closer to 14% for the first quarter of the year.'

Looking at what lies behind the numbers, he added: 'It will be a couple of weeks before we can compare the like-for-like performance of the UK market this month with our European neighbours. However, the first quarter provides a startling level of perspective.The UK in the first three months of the year has closed the gap with Germany; from 210,000 cars to March 2012 to just 68,000 in 2013.

'The UK is now the second largest market for new car sales in Europe, with sales 39% ahead of France and 70% ahead of Italy. With no automotive green shoots showing in continental Europe, it will be natural for OEMs to be looking closely on the UK market over the coming months.'

In conclusion he said: 'We have seen a number of major OEMs releasing financial updates in recent weeks and, whilst headlines naturally focus on profit growth and recovery with the development of new markets, the decline in the European heartlands remains a concern.

'Whilst growth and expansion policies will always be in the forefront of our business leaders; minds, whether through acquisition or innovation, failure has usually followed where the pursuit of these strategies has diverted their focus on what made them strong to begin with.'

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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.