The UK’s new car market fell slightly, by 0.3%, last month, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders.

In total, 83,115 cars were registered during the month, with the fleet sector once again driving the growth, with 45,699 vehicles registered, an increase of 3.3%.

Fleets now make up a 55.0% market share, an increase on February 2016’s figure of 53.1%.

Alternatively fuelled car registrations grew by 48.9% compared with the same month last year, to 3,308 units, taking a 4.0% market share, with the SMMT saying that much of the growth is down to new models going on sale.

Petrol car registrations also grew – by 5.8% – while demand for diesel cars dropped by 9.2% compared to February 2016, possibly as a result of increasingly negative publicity surrounding the use of the fuel.

Once again, the Ford Fiesta topped the registration charts, on 4,282 units, with the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra making up the top three places.

“February is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year and a steady performance was expected following another year of record growth in 2016,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “We expect to see the market bounce back in March as buyers take advantage of the new ’17-plate, as well as the last chance to buy a car eligible for current lower VED rates before they change on 1 April.”