Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'This is the fourth time in less than a year that new car registrations have set a record. It shows the industry is working hard to be more competitive than ever. Consumers are confident that the best deal on a new car is available in the UK.'
He predicted that the new registration plate in September could push sales above the 400,000 threshold during the month, and the SMMT is now forecasting full year sales to rise by 1.3% to 2,250,000 units. But fleet sales for the first six months of 2001 are 5.3% down at 536,867 units (2000: 566,783), despite an 18.3% rise in fleet diesel sales to 109,066 (2000: 92,218), accounting for one fifth of the fleet market.
Fleet sales of petrol models during the first six months of the year were down 9.9% to 427,801 (2000: 474,565). Sales to the business (sub-25 vehicle fleets) fell back 4.7% in June to 20,938 units, and are now down 11.9% year on year, an indication perhaps of falling confidence among small businesses.