New car sales in Britain rose marginally in April, helped by higher demand for fleet vehicles in what is traditionally a low-volume month, industry data showed on Tuesday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said new car registrations were up 1% from a year ago to 134,274 units, although they remained more than 16% below pre-pandemic levels.

Fleet registrations rose by 18.5% to 81,207 units.

SMMT also raised its new car sales forecast for the year to 1.98 million units, slightly higher than the 1.90 million units it registered in 2023.

Registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rose 10.7%, but SMMT said there was a need to "re-enthuse" private buyers to switch as fewer than one in six new BEVs bought went to such consumers.

The industry body has been calling for incentives such as temporarily halving value added tax on BEVs to encourage more buyers at a time when investment in the sector has been growing. (Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar and Sri Hari N S in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Varun H K)