New car sales down 7.9% in March

New number plates failed to increase the sale of new cars last month.

Figures show the sales of the new 11-plate cars were down in March compared with the same month last year.

There were 366,101 new cars registered during the month - a 7.9% dip on the March 2010 figure, according to data obtained from Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said last month's figures were better than expected and were almost 6% up on March 2010 if the scrappage volumes are excluded.

Sales have dropped for nine successive months and the SMMT said it expects new registrations to decline further this spring before making a recovery in the second half of the year.

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Registrations were down by 8.7% at 558,336 over the first three months of the year and the 2011 market is predicted to drop by 5% to around 1.93 million cars.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: "The March 2011 figures demonstrate sustained demand in what is traditionally the biggest month of the year.

"Despite a dip versus 2010, the market remains on course to meet our forecast for the year, with motorists buying increasingly fuel-efficient and low-emitting vehicles across every segment."

Some of the top models sold last month included the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 207.

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