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UK new car registrations up 5.3% in 2012


Ford's Fiesta and Focus models led the market

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UK registrations of new cars rose to 2.04 million in 2012, an annualised rise of 5.3 percent according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In a statement on Monday, the automobile industry body said the rise in sales figures was the highest on record since 2008. Additionally, the 2012 growth rate was the fastest in 11 years, bolstered by a 12.9 percent rise in demand from private individuals, who bought 929,000 of the 2,044,609 units sold.

Additionally, the SMMT saw an annualised rise of 3.7 percent in car sales in December, following on from November’s annualised rise of 11.3 percent. However, the market remained 14.9 percent below its pre-recession peak in 2007, when 2.4 million cars were sold.

Ford Motor Company’s Fiesta and Focus, Vauxhall's Corsa and Astra and Volkswagen’s Golf were the bestselling car models in the UK for 2012 in that order.

"Offers and incentives and some buyers shifting from buying used to new cars could have contributed to the upturn," the SMMT said.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said the resilience of private car sales in December gives a lift to hopes that consumers will spend a reasonable amount over the coming months.

"Despite the overall improvement in consumers’ purchasing power in 2012, the motor industry faces far from easy conditions at the start of 2013 with consumers still confronted by significant headwinds and businesses under pressure to contain costs," Archer told CFOWorld.

Richard Lowe, head of retail at Barclays, said auto manufacturers faced a tricky balancing act over 2013.

"December's figures wrapped up a positive year for the industry, which saw consumer demand driving sales. Consumers' pockets will continue to be squeezed…so manufacturers and dealers will have to be careful that supply does not outstrip demand," Lowe added.

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UK new car registrations up 5.3% in 2012
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