New car registrations fell by 89,593 units in 2011 to 1,941,253 units. The 4.4% decline over 2010 followed a weak start to the year, with volumes set against Scrappage aided markets till mid year. In the second half of 2011 the market was down just 1.1% on a year ago.
Registrations in December fell 3.7%, the 10th monthly decline in the year, but volumes were again just ahead of SMMT’s forecast.
The full year market was some 18,000 units or 0.9% ahead of SMMT’s forecast for 2011, as set in September. At that time the new car market in 2012 was expected to hold at 1.964 million units and grow to 2.047 million units in 2013. Since those forecasts were made independent forecasts for the UK economy have been downgraded, with concerns in particular over the Euro Zone crisis and consumer confidence.
Registrations in 2011 were supported by fleet sales, with the private market recording a drop in volumes.
Diesel and alternatively-fuelled cars both took record shares of the market in 2011, with diesel volumes surpassing petrol volumes for the first time.
Vehicle manufacturers have delivered more efficient and lower CO2 emitting vehicles to the market which helped see average new car CO2 emissions fall to a new low of 138.1g/km, 4.2% down on the 2010 level of 144.2g/km and 23.7% below the 2000 figure of 181.0g/km.
The Ford Fiesta was the best selling new car in 2011, with the VW Golf the best selling diesel model. The Supermini segment remains the largest in the UK, with a market share almost unchanged on 2010 at 36.3%. The Executive, Luxury Saloon and Dual Purpose segments all recorded growth in registrations in 2011.
“2011 proved to be a challenging year for the UK motor industry. Total new car registrations were slightly ahead of industry expectations at 1.94 million units, still down 4.4% on 2010,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
“Weak economic growth will make trading conditions tough in 2012, but record numbers of new and updated models, significantly improved fuel efficiency and exciting new technologies will help to encourage consumers into showrooms. Business and consumer confidence will be the key to a successful year, so it will be important that government delivers on its growth strategy and helps to resolve instability in the Euro Zone.