Fleet registrations were up by almost 4% in March at 190,507 units compared to the same month a year ago, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Overall, UK new car registrations rose by 5.9% in March with 394,806 registrations of 13-plate cars, with fleet accounting for 48% of the market.
It means that 605,198 cars have been registered in the first three months of 2013, with fleet accounting for 310,542 units – a Q1 market share of 51%.
However, even at more than 600,000 units, this is still some 12.1% below the 2007 pre-recession market total, but was the best since 2010, when more than 50,000 cars were registered through the Scrappage Incentive Scheme.
SMMT interim chief executive Mike Baunton said: "Despite ongoing economic concerns, consistent monthly growth in the market is an encouraging sign of returning consumer confidence as motorists are attracted to forecourts by new models and the latest technologies."
The Q1 outturn was 2.7% above SMMT’s forecast, which could lead to the market exceeding its 2.057 million unit full-year outlook. However, it says trading conditions remain challenging, given the subdued wider economic setting.
Richard Lowe, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said: “It might be considered unlucky by some but, not for motor dealers as the new 13 plate helped sales rise for the 13th consecutive month.
“The cost of a tank of petrol remains a huge burden for many, even for those with smaller, fuel efficient vehicles so the Government’s decision to scrap the planned duty rise, as part of last month’s Budget, will hopefully help keep car sales moving in the right direction”.