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London — UK new car registrations rose by 11.3% year on year in July, but year-to-date figures are still sharply below those a year earlier, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed August 5.

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"Some 174,887 cars were registered in July 2020 as dealerships across the UK opened for their first full month of trading since February. This represents a significant improvement on the same month last year, when declining business and consumer confidence undermined the market," SMMT said.

Overall registrations are still down by 41.9%, or 598,054 units, for January-July, however, SMMT said, adding that despite the increase in July, its full year outlook is for a 30% drop in registrations, representing more than GBP20 billion ($26 billion) of lost sales.

Public appetite for zero and ultra-low emission cars remains stable, with plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles taking a 9% share of registrations for July, compared with 9.5% the previous month and up from 3.1% for 2019 overall, the group said.

Gasoline car registrations were flat in July, up a marginal 0.3% year on year, while diesel registrations slumped by 25.9%

"July's figures are positive, with a boost from demand pent up from earlier in the year and some attractive offers meaning there are some very good deals to be had," SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.

"By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend," he said.

"Although this month's figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy," Hawes added.

UK light commercial vehicle registrations also rose year on year in July by 7.1%, following four months of double-digit falls, SMMT data showed.

Registrations were still down by 39% over January-July, however, with the latest SMMT forecast estimating that around 270,000 light commercial vehicles will be registered by the end of the year, a drop of 26.3%.