Sales of cars to businesses ended 2009 down 20.9% compared with 2008. The fleet and business total for 2009 ended at 980,695 registrations.

However, signs for fleet and business sales in 2010 look more positive because the December 2009 sales figures for this sector were only down 3% on December 2008.

The total market including private registrations ended the year down just 6.4% at 1,994,999 cars sold. This figure was buoyed by the scrappage scheme in the latter half of the year.

Alongside the sales figures released by the SMMT, the average CO2 figure was also revealed.

An SMMT spokesman said: “Average new car CO2 emissions fell by 5.4% on the 2008 level to 149.5g/km in 2009.”