UK car sales hit new high

UK car sales hit an all-time high last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It is expected to announce that a record 2.6 million cars were registered in 2015, just up on the previous record of 2.58 million set in 2003.

Last year’s figures also represent a six per cent increase on 2014, when 2.48 million cars were registered. Registrations did dip in October, ending 43 consecutive months of growth, but a 3.8 per cent increase was recorded in November with an eight per cent increase in December.

Sue Robinson, director of National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said, ‘It is extremely encouraging to see that the new car market recorded its best performance with registrations hitting the 2.6 million mark in 2015. Strong new car sales will have a lasting positive impact on the UK economy as all the new cars of today need to be serviced in the years ahead.

‘The NFDA expect the market this year to continue to perform well and to build on the success of 2015.’

The record number of registrations was attributed to wage growth and low interest finance deals, according to SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, Glass’s, commented, ‘As predicted by Glass’s over a year ago, 2015 new car registrations have exceeded 2.6 million units which is fantastic news for the industry and demonstrates the strength of the UK market at this point in time. Growth will continue through 2016 and Glass’s expect a 3% increase during the course of the year as the economy continues to grow and consumer confidence extends further. Total registrations for this year will be in the region of 2.71 million and the growth is likely to be driven by ever more appealing PCP schemes. The one word of caution is that as an industry we need to understand the impact of pre-registration and the effect it may have on used car values during 2016.’

Commercial vehicle sales will rise about 15%, driven by a surge in online shopping deliveries, while VW sales bounced back from a 20% dip in November with a good December.

Hawes said, ‘There has been a lot of comment and concern around air quality and diesel. I think the fact that the market for diesel has held up demonstrates that, for a lot of consumers, they are still driven by fuel economy and diesel offers better fuel economy.’ Hawes said he expects sales to remain stable during 2016.