The SMMT has released sales figures for November which show that the new car market declined by 1.5% to 169,059 units. In the first eleven months of the year new car registrations reached 2,423,598 units - 0.2% ahead of the same period of last year.
The SMMT says that new car registrations in the UK are expected to reach 2.565 million units in 2003, 165,000 units up on the initial January outlook. This will make 2003 the highest annual market on record. In 2002 registrations reached 2,563,631 units and 2,458,769 units in 2001.

"At the beginning of 2003, the industry expected new car registrations to cool, forecasting a six % dip on 2002's total.  However, a truly amazing market throughout the year has exceeded all expectations and the year is now firmly on course towards its third successive record total', said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.

He added: "A range of new models, good deals and strong consumer spending have sustained growth in the market although sales have cooled over the last couple of months. To reach the year-end forecast, 141,400 units must be registered in December, a dip of 2.2% on 2002's figure."

The SMMT data also showed that November saw diesel volumes surge 13.3% to 52,645 units. Diesel penetration hit a record high of 31.1% for the month - the first time figures have exceeded 30 %. Year-to-date penetration remained strong at 27.1 %.

Diesel volumes are currently running at their highest ever rate. 657,135 diesel cars have been registered so far this year, already 9.0% up on 2002's full year total of 602,623 units.

The SMMT said that the UK diesel market is expected to end 2003 at 693,000 units or 27 % of the total market. It is expected to keep climbing, reaching 34 % or 815,000 units by 2005, the trade association added.


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