New car sales motor ahead

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New car sales accelerated last month, boosted by the new 12-plate registration numbers, official figures showed today.

There were 372,835 new registrations in March 2012 – a 1.8 per cent rise on the March 2011 total, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Last month’s figure took the total for the year so far to 563,556 – a 0.9 per cent rise on the January-March 2011 total.

The March 2012 figures were further boosted by private sales rising 7.4 per cent – one of the best monthly increases in the past two years.

This was the third successive month of growth for new-car sales, with the March 2012 figure being around 6 per cent higher than motor industry forecasts.

But last month’s figure was still around 17 per cent lower than the pre-recession March 2007 total.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: “The important March new-car market performed above expectations.

“Domestic demand for new cars is showing signs of recovery, with private buyers increasingly returning to take advantage of a wide range of excellent products and, this month, the new 12-plate.”

Diesel sales were up 4.7 per cent last month and alternatively-fuelled vehicle sales rose 5.6 per cent, but still account for only 1.5 per cent of the overall market.

These were the top-selling models in March 2012:

1. Ford Fiesta

2. Vauxhall Corsa

3. Ford Focus

4. Volkswagen Golf

5. Vauxhall Astra

6. Nissan Qashqai

7. Volkswagen Polo

8. Toyota Yaris

9. Peugeot 207

10. BMW 3 Series

SMMT facts, figures and video