New-car deliveries in the U.K. fell 2.5% in February to 61,868 units in what is traditionally a slow month.
“The February new-car market was broadly in line with industry expectations, with a welcome increase in private retail activity,” Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders CEO Paul Everitt says in a statement.
Through the year’s first two months, new-car deliveries, including fleet, totaled 190,721 units, down 0.8% from year-ago.
The retail sector of the market stabilized, as sales rose 2.1% to 75,688 units over the first two months of the year after nudging upward 0.6% to 22,728 in February.
“The March market will provide a much better indicator of industry health than the relatively low volumes traditionally seen in February,” Everitt says.
February typically accounts for a little more than 3% of annual registrations, ahead of the registration-plate change in March. Some 350,000 new “12-plate” cars are expected to be registered in March, 2% below the 2011 market.
SMMT says it is important Chancellor George Osborne uses this month’s government budget to find ways to stimulate the economy, maintain stability in motoring taxes and duties, sustain support for low-carbon transport markets and boost the availability of affordable credit.
Diesel car sales climbed 4.9% to 33,324 units in February, growing their market share to 53.9% from 50.1% year-ago.
U.K. market-leaderboosted its share of the new-car segment by 2.6 percentage points to 14.5% in February, as its deliveries climbed 18.8% to 8,957 units.
TheFocus, with 3,713 deliveries, was the best-selling model in February, ending an 11-month run at the top by the Ford Fiesta, with 2,899.
SMMT forecasts full-year U.K. new-car sales of 1.92 million units, just below last year’s 1.94 million.
Van and truck sales dropped 18.1% in February to 10,796 units, but the result was mixed.
Van deliveries of 8,183 were off 26.4%, compared with like-2011, well below SMMT’s forecast of about 12,000 for the month.
Truck demand remained robust as the 17th straight month of year-on-year growth saw sales jump 26.4% to 2,613 units.
Ford’s light-commercial-vehicle sales tumbled 30.8% from like-2011 to 2,333 units.
After two months, van sales declined 20.3% to 22,521 units, while truck deliveries improved 36.7% to 6,199. This left the light-commercial-vehicle market down 12.4% for the period to 28,720 units.