UK car market grows strong

Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the UK new car market has grown for a 36th consecutive month – a record growth period.

In February, traditionally one of the quietest months of the year ahead of a number plate change in March, the market grew 12% year-on-year with 76,958 new cars registered, achieving a year-to-date rise of 8.3%. Fleet buyers drove this increase with registrations up 19.9% in February, while the private market saw an increase of 3.4%.

The UK car market’s sustained expansion is the longest ever seen, beating the previous record of 26 months set in the late 1980s. The number of new cars registered has risen every month since March 2012, as the UK continues to bounce back from the recession and consumer demand has been driven by exciting new products and attractive finance deals.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘Three years of continuous growth in the new car market is remarkable and reflects the strong upturn in the confidence of UK car buyers since the recession.

‘Registrations of fleet and business cars have outpaced the private market in February, reflecting the increased business confidence across the UK. With most fleet car buyers on a three-year replacement cycle, many of those cars purchased at the beginning of the current growth period are now due for replacement. Over the course of 2015, however, we are expecting a more stable market to emerge given there has already been an extended period of consistent growth.’

Since March 2012, the rolling volume of the UK new car market has grown by more than 540,000 units.

More than one in three of the past 36 months of growth has seen a double-digit percentage increase.

March 2014 saw the largest volume increase in the period with 70,018 more cars registered year-on-year.

Commenting on the news, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, said, ‘It is extremely positive to see the new car market has now achieved 36 consecutive months of growth – increasing 12.0% over the period.’

Robinson continued, ‘Consumers appear to be less reluctant to commit to new vehicles as employment prospects improve, and inflation comes down to a record-equalling low of 0.3% following cheaper fuel and lower energy prices.

‘Increased sales are supported by strong manufacturer deals and low cost finance offers that are encouraging consumers to buy.

‘We anticipate the market to continue to grow, and have strong expectations ahead of next month’s 15-plate change where customers will be likely to take advantage of a range of substantial discounts and savings, in addition to a variety of low rate finance packages being made available.

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