UK new car registrations rose for a 12th consecutive month in February, with a 7.9% rise to 66,749 units.
The increase was on par with average growth posted during the last three months and above the 6.4% average growth posted in the last 12 months.
Given the subdued nature of the economy, the growth is likely to be the result of market specific factors – notably replacement demand being enticed through attractive deals and offers on new, more efficient cars.
February is typically the lowest volume monthly market in the year ahead of the plate-change in March. In 2012, February accounted for 3% of the annual market, whilst March took an 18.2% share.
Private registrations have risen for 14-consecutive months, with volumes in February up 28.9%.
The Ford Focus was the best selling model in February, whilst the Ford Fiesta took top spot in the year-to-date.
Registrations of Mini segment cars rose 135.7% in February and have doubled during the year-to-date. The Supermini segment strengthened its position as the largest segment, with a 35.6% share of volumes in February.
Demand for petrol cars rose a fifth in the month and alternatively-fuelled cars reported a 26.6% rise in February volumes.
"UK new car registrations have risen every month for the last year with February continuing the trend, growing 7.9% year-on-year boosted by the highest increase in private consumer demand since spring 2010," said Mike Baunton, interim chief executive, SMMT. "However, February is traditionally a low volume month as motorists look forward to the plate-change in March, but attractive new car deals are sustaining the market. New models are delivering ever greater fuel efficiency, practicality, refinement, technology and predictable ownership costs, so motorists are seeing the benefit of new car purchases."
The SMMT is expecting new '13'-plate registrations in March to be just ahead of last year’s 372,835 units.