Boost as car registrations increase

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New car registrations rose by an annual 3.3 per cent in April, a stronger-than-expected reading that pointed to improved consumer demand, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders industry body said yesterday.

Total car sales between January and April were 1.4 per cent up on a year earlier, and the SMMT said it was raising its full-year car sales forecast to 1.948 million units, 0.4 per cent higher than the 1.941 million cars sold in 2011.

The figures suggest that the underlying economy may be stronger than the picture of mild recession painted by official economic data last month.

“We are seeing a steady increase in consumer confidence with growth in private demand, boosted by the arrival of a raft of new products,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.

Last month, the SMMT reported a 1.8 per cent annual rise in car registrations for March – a key month when many purchases are made due to a twice-yearly change in vehicle number plates.

British car sales are still nearly a fifth below their level before the financial crisis.