New car sales hit highest annual total since 2007

The Ford Fiesta is the UK's best-selling car for the fifth successive year.

The Ford Fiesta is the UK's best-selling car for the fifth successive year. - Credit: Ford

New car registrations reached 2,264,737 last year – 10.8% up on 2012 and the highest annual total since 2007.

It beat the Society or Motoring Manufacturers and Traders’ 2.25 million forecast as December saw the 22nd consecutive monthly sales rise.

On average, 600 extra cars were registered each day last year than in 2012, firmly securing the UK as Europe’s second largest car market after Germany and the only one to grow consistently.

This year the market is expected to stabilise with sustainable growth of around 1% over the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country’s economic recovery.

“While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe with 22 consecutive months of growth.

“The 10.8% increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available, as well as increased demand for more technologically-advanced new cars. We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle.”

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Since 2007, the UK market has seen a shift away from the upper medium segment towards smaller cars in the mini and supermini segments, as well as the multi-purpose vehicle and dual purpose segments. The change in buying patterns been driven by demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient models and vehicles with greater versatility.

Superminis are still the largest segment by volume, with a market share of 35.9% last year.

2013 top sellers

1 Ford Fiesta 121,929

2 Ford Focus 87,350

3 Vauxhall Corsa 84,275

4 Vauxhall Astra 68,070

5 Volkswagen Golf 64,951

6 Nissan Qashqai 50,211

7 BMW 3 Series 43,494

8 Volkswagen Polo 42,609

9 BMW 1 Series 41,883

10 Peugeot 208 38,616