By Marcus Leach

Data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that new car sales in the UK rose to 142,322 last month, up 3.3% from April 2011.

The increase is a welcome boost at a time where the UK economy is suffering, and marks the largest percentage increase in sales so far this year.

The increase was down to a 14.8% rise in private sales, with fleet sales down 3.4% and business sales dropping 11.2%.

Highlights:

- New car registrations rose 3.3% in April to 142,322 units.
- This was the third, and largest, increase this year with January-April volumes up 1.4%.
- Private registrations grew 14.8% in April, continuing the sector’s recovery.
- SMMT revises up its full year forecast to 1.95 million units, now higher than 2011 by 0.4%.

“A strong April new car market has raised confidence across the UK motor industry with registrations increasing 3.3%,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive.

“We are seeing a steady increase in consumer confidence with growth in private demand, boosted by the arrival of a raft of new products. SMMT has increased its full year forecast to 1.95 million units, putting the market marginally ahead of 2011, indicating a period of relative stability.”

John Leech, UK head of KPMG’s automotive practice, said that the data has bucked the general trend of the UK economy.

“As UK new car sales buck the recessionary trend, the resurgence in the sale of new cars is starting to gather momentum," he said.

“Most striking is a real strengthening of underlying retail demand which is up almost 15% in April 2012 compared to a year ago.

“Although this is a surprise, it comes on the back of strong February and March sales figures which should give confidence to the industry and the wider economy.”

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