Fleet volumes continued to rise in August with 32,975 registrations attributed to the fleet sector, up 4.5% compared to August 2010.
That equates to 646,292 fleet units so far this year out of an overall total of 1,220,618 new car registrations – a 52.9% market share.
Overall, the new car market in August rose by 7.3% to 59,346 units, with registrations from January to August down 6.1% on a year ago, while private demand grew by 10.7% in August.
"New car registrations in August rose for the first time since June 2010, up 7.3% to 59,346 units,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
“August represents a relatively small share of the new car market and the September new 61-plate registrations will be far more important for vehicle manufacturers and franchised dealers.
"The September new car market is always important for the UK motor industry, accounting for around 17% of the full year's registrations. Consumers are nervous about the future, but with industry offering unprecedented improvements in fuel economy, competitive finance offers and a wide variety of new models, buyers will find there is something to suit every taste and pocket."
David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at Deloitte, said: “Today’s figures showing an increase in new car registrations for the month of August comes as a welcome surprise. While fleet sales have held firm in 2011 thus far, retail sales have been down and, with a combination of the holiday season and private buyers waiting for the new registration plates to be introduced in September, it was never expected to be a great month. August is also typically one of the quietest, with an average of around 50,000 new car registrations.
“August generally represents a relatively small share of the new car market with September being a far more crucial month for the automotive retail industry. On average around 350,000 new cars are registered. After nearly a year of falling sales, I expect September to mirror the August increase and we are likely to see numbers slightly up from last year.
“This is due to a number of different factors including several new models coming on stream, interest rates remaining low and a ‘tipping point’ having now been reached – the point where it makes sense to buy new, with private consumers having held off for a considerable time. I also see the fleet market remaining firm in September.
“Adding to this, the manufacturers are continuing to do well with steady demand from external markets like Russia and China counteracting the slowdown in new car sales across Europe and North America.
“Looking to the future, our forecast is for a good September with a rise over last year.”