Steady growth for new car registrations 

New car registrations saw steady growth in July, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 178,420 cars were registered – an uplift of 3.2% on the same month last year – while registrations in 2015 so far have risen 6.5% to surpass 1.5 million.

The UK new car market has seen consistent, strong growth since early 2012, with July marking the 41stconsecutive month of increases thanks to prevailing economic confidence combined with low interest rates and attractive finance deals. While the first six months of 2015 represented an all-time record high for registrations, the more modest increase in July is suggestive of a more stable second half of the year as demand levels.

The top-selling segments so far this year have been Supermini, Lower Medium (small family cars) and Dual Purpose (SUVs and crossovers). Volume growth in all three segments reflects a shift in buying habits over the past decade, with the Supermini and Dual Purpose segments enjoying the biggest gains.

In particular, demand for Superminis has grown 22.7% since 2005 – a result of consumers downsizing to smaller cars that offer significantly improved refinement, comfort and specification than their equivalents a decade ago. The market for Dual Purpose vehicles, meanwhile, has seen a staggering 88.5% leap over the past decade as manufacturers have introduced new models to cater for buyers seeking more versatility.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said, ‘While more moderate than in recent months, July’s rise in new car registrations is good news, and indicative of what we expect for the remainder of 2015. With demand having reached a record high in the first half of the year, we anticipate more stable growth in the coming months.’

New car registrations by segment – 2005 vs 2015 (January-July totals)


% change3.2%-4.0%10.4%31.0%1.0%6.4%-12.2%
Mkt share ’1549.1%48.4%2.4%43.4%52.9%3.7%
Mkt share ’1452.8%45.3%1.9%44.4%51.3%4.3%
% change6.5%2.6%8.6%58.6%2.0%12.3%-6.2%
Mkt share ’1548.4%48.9%2.7%45.9%50.1%3.9%
Mkt share ’1450.3%47.9%1.8%48.0%47.6%4.5%
Total cars2,131,7951,994,9992,030,8461,941,2532,044,6092,264,7372,476,435
Best sellersJulyYear-to-date
1Ford Fiesta8,5041Ford Fiesta80,494
2Ford Focus7,0442Vauxhall Corsa55,011
3Vauxhall Corsa4,8863Ford Focus52,122
4Volkswagen Golf4,8804Volkswagen Golf43,141
5Nissan Qashqai3,7895Nissan Qashqai38,290
6Audi A33,7316Vauxhall Astra33,153
7Volkswagen Polo3,6207Volkswagen Polo32,600
8Fiat 5003,1918Audi A329,496
9Vauxhall Astra3,1879Mercedes-Benz C Class27,544
10Mercedes-Benz C Class2,86810Fiat 50025,815

New car registrations – rolling-year totals, December 2007 to present

‘It is positive to see the new car market has now achieved 41 consecutive months of growth – increasing 3.2% in July’ said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, commenting on the SMMT’s new car registration figures.

Robinson continued, ‘It is encouraging to see that vehicles are still being sold and consumers are taking advantage of strong finance deals and competitive offers.’

‘The market is appearing to be levelling off as the cycle now matures, however, there continues to be speculation that registration figures may not reflect the real number of cars actually being sold.’