12-plate lures in new-car buyers

New-car sales in March showed one of the best monthly increases in recent years, although sales are still way off pre-recession figures.

There was a 1.8% rise in new car sales last month compared with March 2011, amounting to 372,835 new registrations, boosted by the new 12-plate registration numbers.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), car sales last month brought the total for this year so far to 563,556 new car sales. Private sales also contributed to the March 2012 figures by rising 7.4% - topping the past two years in terms of month-on-month increases.

The top five selling models in March 2012 were the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra.

While March 2012 car sales were around 6% higher than predictions by industry experts, it was still about 17% lower than pre-recession March 2007 figures.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: "Domestic demand for new cars is showing signs of recovery, with private buyers increasingly returning to take advantage of a wide range of excellent products and, this month, the new 12-plate."

Copyright Press Association 2012