The UK car market continued to buck the European downturn with growth of 11.3% in November, according to data released by the SMMT.

UK new car registrations rose 11.3% to 149,191 units in November, on the back of increased private demand. The UK new car market has grown 5.4% to 1,921,052 units during the January-November period and the SMMT said that the positive performance over the year-to-date puts the full year market on track to be the best since 2008.

The UK is also now the second largest new car market in Europe, following growth in the UK over the last 10 months and a drop in demand in the other big markets. 

"New car registrations rose 11.3% in November, positioning the UK new car market as the second largest in Europe," said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. "The upward trend has been driven by private retail customers. The outlook for 2013 remains challenging, but vehicle manufacturers and their dealers will continue to work hard to attract motorists to their showrooms and deliver outstanding value."

The strong performance of the private retail side of the market will lead to speculation that the figures are being boosted by dealer pre-registrations, assisted by some OEMs looking for higher UK volumes in the face of extraordinarily weak demand on the European continent.

The SMMT also acknowledged that 'growth is likely to be market specific, boosted by attractive offers and new, innovative models offering significant fuel efficiency and cost savings'.

David Raistrick, UK automotive leader at Deloitte said: “The resilient UK new car market continues to defy the downward pull of the Eurozone and its debt problems. It is remarkable that we have seen nine consecutive months of growth being reported against 2011, especially as our European partners are forecasting further contraction in their markets during 2013. Even the normally robust German market is being forecast to contract by over 3% next year, which would be its second worst year for new car sales in the last two decades. In a similar manner, the French figures currently show sales declining by nearly 15% on last year and the lowest sales since 1997.

“There is no doubt that the current levels of manufacturer pre-registrations have helped support UK new sales, but this is not the full story. Analysis by Deloitte’s automotive research unit indicates that the UK new car market has fared significantly better than each of the European markets. The question is whether the UK market will continue its current performance into 2013.”

Registrations by private buyers increased by more than a fifth in November and by 12.9% over the year-to-date.

The Ford Focus was the best-selling new car in November, but the Ford Fiesta has held the top position over the year-to-date.

SMMT’s full year 2012 car market forecast of 2.013m units, as fixed in October, looks set to be bettered. At that time the 2013 market was expected to show little net change, at 2.015m units. SMMT will review its forecast in January, after publication of full year data.