The United Kingdom new car market reached a record high of 240,174 units in June, bettering last year’s total of 207,330 by 15.8%. January to June first-half sales were, however, down fractionally to 1,347,485 compared with 1,347,693 for the same period of 2002.

According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there was an increase in sales to private buyers in June while the overall total exceeded expectations thanks to three extra trading days (there was an extra public holiday for the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations in June 2002).

Business demand showed the best percentage gain in June, rising 18.8% while private registrations rose 16.1%, the sharpest increase of 2003 so far. In a market that has at times been dominated by fleet purchasers, nearly half of all new cars registered in June went to private buyers.

In fact, private registrations over the first half of 2003 surpassed 2002’s total to take their market share to 49.4%.

The ever-optimistic SMMT sees the UK new car market “well on course to match, if not exceed, the industry’s year-end forecast of 2.45 million units, despite expectations of moderating sales in the second half of 2003”.

The diesel car market in June rose for an unprecedented 34th consecutive month, up 31.6% month-on-month. Diesel cars accounted for 26.2% of the June market and 26.2% for the first half.

The recently redesigned Renault Mégane moved to its best ever position in June as the second best selling car in the UK. The Ford Focus maintained its top position for the 38th consecutive month.
The VW Passat headed the best selling list for diesel cars in June for the first time this year, but its smaller sibling, the soon-to-be-replaced Golf remained the best selling diesel model for first half of 2003 with 16,917 registrations.

The supermini segment accounted for 34% of the new car market in the first half of 2003, up from 31.8% last year. Volume grew almost 30,000 units, 6.9% rise.

4×4 dual purpose (SUVs), luxury saloons and MPVs (minivans) showed the best percentage gains during the first half of the year, up 15.7, 14.2 and 10.2% respectively. Demand for MPVs leapt by more than 80% in June alone.