Figures released by the SMMT show that the UK car market in May was 1.7% off last year's pace.

Some 150,431 cars were sold in May to take the first five months' total to 846,513 units, 7.3% down on the same period last year.

The SMMT said that the UK car market is on track to achieve the full year forecast of 1.93m units, although it also acknowledged that the 'economic setting remains uncertain'.

“New car registrations for May were down just 1.7% on 2010 levels, with strong performances in the fleet and business sectors,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “Consumers remain cautious, but with significantly improved fuel economy, service plans and more affordable finance, there is great value on offer across the market.”

The May result is the 11th successive month of decline, but the SMMT maintains that the car market is moving 'in line with expectations'.

The UK car market is currently constrained by the unsettled economic backdrop, with consumer confidence suppressed by concerns over employment levels, low wage growth and rising costs of living. The effects of the scrappage scheme have largely worked through now; 4,000 cars went through the scheme in May 2010 and just 1,500 collectively in June and July 2010, compared with over 100,000 units in the first four months of last year.

The SMMT said that private demand continues to fall, down 15.3% in May and by 18.9% over the year-to-date. Total market volumes have been supported by fleet demand, which rose by 11.1% in May. Total market volumes have been supported by fleet demand, which rose by 11.1% in May.
 
Diesel cars accounted for 52.9% of the market in May, from 46.9% last May, after a 10.7% rise in volumes. VW’s Golf was the best selling diesel model in the month, whilst the Ford Fiesta was the top selling car overall in May.