New car registrations fell for an eighth consecutive month in February, down 5,262 units to 63,424 units. The 7.7% fall was the smallest decline recorded over this period.
The February outturn was 6.0% above SMMT’s forecast for the month. February is a very low volume month, just ahead of the registration plate change in March. In 2010 February represented just 3.4% of the annual market, whilst March took a 19.6% share.
In February 2010 the Scrappage Incentive Scheme (SIS) accounted for almost 20% of the market. With those registrations removed, the 2011 market would be up 13.2%. The 2011 February new car market was 14.5% above the 2009 February outturn, but some 18.1% away from the 1999-2010 average for the month.
Registrations in the first two months of 2011 have declined by 10.2% or 21,930 units. Over the last three and six month periods the market has fallen by approximately 13%, although over the past 12 months was down just 1.7%.
Fleet volumes recovered in February, up 8.6%, but private demand continued to decline.
Demand for the mini and supermini segment cars, boosted by the SIS a year ago, continued to fall in February. Registrations of executive, luxury saloon, sports cars and MPVs showed double digit growth in the month.
Demand for diesel cars rose by 8.9% in February and their market share was once again over 50% in the month.
The Volkswagen Golf was the best seller in February, with the Ford Focus number one over the year-to-date.
“The UK motor industry is looking for a strong March market to help boost confidence and kick start demand for the new 11-plate. February new car registrations were better than expected and whilst below 2010 levels, they were significantly ahead of 2009 and on an improving trend,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “This month’s Budget will be critical in determining consumer and business confidence and the ongoing stability of the market. We’re looking for certainty on motoring taxes, a freeze on fuel duty and measures that support business investment and access to finance and credit.”