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Fleet sales boost UK car market

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The number of fleet cars sold in the UK rose by 11.1% in May, figures have shown.

However, the total number of new cars sold fell to 150,431, a drop of 1.7% compared with May last year.

But the figures suggest that more firms will soon be looking for car and van insurance after a surge in sales in the fleet and business sectors.

During the first five months of 2011, new car sales fell 7.3% to 846,513 units, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

New car sales have now fallen for 11 months in a row, but the SMMT said May's decline was the smallest since registrations began to contract in July last year.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: "New car registrations for May were down just 1.7% on 2010 levels, with strong performances in the fleet and business sectors.

"Consumers remain cautious but, with significantly improved fuel economy, service plans and more affordable finance, there is great value on offer across the market."

Registrations over the first five months of this year have fallen by 7.3%, or 66,923 units, to 846,513.

The SMMT predicted that the market will stabilise in the third quarter of the year and the full-year market will total 1.93 million sales in 2011, a decline of around 34,000 units.

Demand from private car customers continued to fall, down 15.3% in May and by 18.9% over the year to date.

Diesel cars accounted for 52.9% of the market in May, from 46.9% last May. VW's Golf was the best-selling diesel model in May, while the Ford Fiesta was the top-selling car overall.

© Press Association 2011