New car registrations fell for an 11th successive month in May, to 150,431 units. The 1.7% decline was the smallest fall reported since registrations began to contract in July last year.
Registrations over the first five months of 2011 have fallen by 7.3% or 66,923 units to 846,513 units. The 12 month moving annual total stood at 1.964 million units in May, down over 195,000 units from a year ago.
Registrations have moved in line with SMMT’s forecast, the May total being 2% or almost 3,000 units above expectations. SMMT is forecasting the market to stabilise in Q3 and the full year market to total 1.93 million units in 2011, a decline of some 34,000 units on the current moving annual total.
The market is constrained by the unsettled economic backdrop, with consumer confidence suppressed by concerns over employment levels, low wage growth and rising costs of living. The effects of the scrappage scheme have almost washed through now; 4,000 cars went through the scheme in May 2010 and just 1,500 collectively in June and July 2010, compared with over 100,000 units in the first four months of last year.
Private demand continues to fall, down 15.3% in May and by 18.9% over the year-to-date. Total market volumes have been supported by fleet demand, which rose by 11.1% in May.
Diesel cars accounted for 52.9% of the market in May, from 46.9% last May, after a 10.7% rise in volumes. VW’s Golf was the best selling diesel model in the month, whilst the Ford Fiesta was the top selling car overall in May.
Registrations of Supermini cars posted their first rise in registrations since June 2010. Volumes of Executive, Luxury Saloon and Dual Purpose cars showed the best growth rates during May.
“New car registrations for May were down just 1.7% on 2010 levels, with strong performances in the fleet and business sectors,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “Consumers remain cautious, but with significantly improved fuel economy, service plans and more affordable finance, there is great value on offer across the market.”