UK car sales continue to defy Europe downturn with 7.9% rise in February
SMMT says 12th successive month of growth driven by private demand
New-car registrations in the UK rose 7.9 percent to 66,749 in February as the market continued to defy the downward trend in other key European markets.
The year-on-year increase contrasted sharply with Germany, Italy and Spain which all saw a drop in volume last month.
The jump in UK sales -- the 12th successive month of growth -- was largely boosted by the highest increase in private consumer demand in three years, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said in a statement on Thursday.
"February is traditionally a low volume month as motorists look forward to the plate-change in March, but attractive new car deals are sustaining the market," said Mike Baunton, interim SMMT CEO, in the statement.
The SMMT said the rise was on a par with average growth posted during the last three months, and above the 6.4 percent average growth posted in the last 12 months.
"It is mainly the UK consumer powering the recovery. Sales in this segment alone have risen 29 percent in February as manufacturers have lured consumers with a wide range of discounts, including 0 percent finance,'' said John Leech, UK head of automotive at KPMG, after the data was released.
Key European markets fall
Passenger-car registrations in Germany, Europe's largest market, dropped 10.5 percent in February. Sales in Italy were down 17.4 percent, while Spain's volume dropped 10 percent.
Last year, full-year sales in the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland declined 7.8 percent to 12.5 million, the lowest level since 1995.
Reuters contributed to this report
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