UK new car registrations rose 11.5% to 143,643 units in January, another positive result to contrast with markets elsewhere in Europe.
The SMMT said that growth was boosted by 15.9% rise in private registrations during the month.
"The new car market has started the year confidently with registrations climbing 11.5% in January," said Mike Baunton, Interim Chief Executive, SMMT. "Lifted by a solid rise in private demand, the new car market posted its 11th successive month of growth with motorists attracted to forecourts by the latest models and competitive deals on offer. Building on a strong performance in 2012, SMMT has increased its market forecast - we anticipate a modest rise over the year, followed by further growth in 2014."
January's growth was the third month of double digit growth in the past four months and the 11th successive monthly rise.
The SMMT acknowledged that market growth is set against a challenging economic backdrop, suggesting market-specific factors are helping to drive demand, such as delayed purchases being tempted by deals and offers.
The Ford Fiesta was the best selling model in January.
The SMMT revised upwards its full year forecast for 2013 and 2014, after the better than expected growth in 2012. The market is expected to rise by 0.6% to 2.057 million units in 2013 and by 2.6% to 2.11 million units in 2014.
John Leech, UK head of automotive at KPMG, also said that replacement demand is driving the market: “It [market growth] also reflects a return to the new car market by customers who had switched to used cars during the recession. This may soon impact the UK’s used car market which has been booming and enjoying record high prices.
“Dealers and fleet managers need to take care that there may be a downwards price realignment in the used car market in 2013. I believe prices could potentially fall by as much as 5% over the next 12 months.”
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