By Marcus Leach

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) car registrations fell 4.4% in 2011 to 1.94 million.

Highlights of data:

- New car demand totalled 1,941,253 units in 2011, down 4.4% on 2010, but ahead of the 1.92 million forecast.

- Registrations in December fell by 3.7% to 119,188 units and the market was down 1.8% in quarter four.

- Diesel and alternatively fuelled cars both took record market shares over the year.

- Average new car CO2 emissions fell to a new low of 138.1g/km in 2011, down 4.2% on the 2010 level.

- The market is forecast to be broadly stable in 2012, with firmer recovery expected in 2013.

“2011 proved to be a challenging year for the UK motor industry. Total new car registrations were slightly ahead of industry expectations at 1.94 million units, still down 4.4% on 2010,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive.

“Weak economic growth will make trading conditions tough in 2012, but record numbers of new and updated models, significantly improved fuel efficiency and exciting new technologies will help to encourage consumers into showrooms.

"Business and consumer confidence will be the key to a successful year, so it will be important that government delivers on its growth strategy and helps to resolve instability in the Euro Zone.”

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