Car market remains steady

The UK new car market remained steady in February, dipping just -0.3%, according to figures released by SMMT.

Some 83,115 vehicles were registered in traditionally one of the quietest months of the year ahead of the number plate change in March. Fleets drove the market, with 45,699 cars registered, up 3.3%, while private demand fell -4.4% to 36,018 units and business registrations declined -5.3% to 1,398.

Following January’s strong performance, buyers registered a record 3,308 alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) in February, a 48.9% uplift on 2016, taking a four per cent marketshare. This was partly driven by new AFV models going on sale, a result of major investments by manufacturers into cutting edge, fuel-efficient technology. Petrol registrations experienced an increase – rising 5.8% to 42,826 units – while demand for diesel cars fell -9.2% compared to the same month in 2016.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘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. 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.’