The SMMT's highlights reveal:
* Registrations over the first seven months have risen more than 40,000 units or 3.5% to 1,201,564 units.
* All fuel types showed increased volumes in July, with alternatively-fuelled registrations up 45.9% in the month.
* SMMT has revised up its full year forecast for 2012 to 1.97M units, compared with 1.94M in 2011.
It's report said the positive first half performance encouraged SMMT to revise upwards its full year forecast to 1.97 million units, representing a 1.6% rise on 2011’s 1.94M unit market.
Registrations in July, at 143,884 units, were up 9.3% on a year ago, the fifth successive monthly increase and the strongest gain since the Scrappage-boosted increase of July 2010.
After the distortions from the Scrappage Incentive Scheme, a degree of pent-up demand and the availability of new products have helped lift new car volumes in 2012. The growth has come despite an unsettled economic backdrop, with disappointing GDP figures and constrained consumer and business spending.
On a 12-month rolling basis, registrations have improved by some 40,000 units or 2% since the start of the year to 1.98M units but there is still some headway to recover to the 2.4M, pre-recession, market of 2007.
All fuel types saw an increase in volumes in July, most notably the market for alternatively-fuelled cars, up 45.9% as new products entered the marketplace. Demand for petrol cars was also boosted by strong growth in the Mini segment, again reflective of new model activity.
The Mini segment grew 93.4% in July, and the Dual Purpose by 42.5%, with the Supermini and MPV markets also showing double-digit growth in the month.
The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling model in July and over the first seven months of 2012.
“New car registrations rose 9.3% in July, continuing the upward trend seen during recent months. SMMT’s full year forecast is for 1.97M cars to be registered during 2012 suggesting a slight slowing of demand in the second half of the year,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “International economic stability remains a concern for vehicle manufacturers and the UK market, but intense competition and new fuel efficient products are creating great opportunities for motorists.”