New Car Sales Continue To Skyrocket
The UK’s car market has proven itself to be in rude health once more, with figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicating that more new vehicles were registered in March of 2016 than during any other month since 1999.
This 17-year peak represents a 5.3 per cent annual increase, with the biggest rise seen in the sale of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs). Sales of cars running hybrid or full electric power trains were up by over a fifth, according to BBC News.
Estimates suggest that close to 519,000 new cars were registered in the UK last month. And while the introduction of the latest number plates usually boosts sales at this point in the year, it is still remarkable that demand is maintaining its upward trajectory.
On average, around 20 per cent of new cars sold each year are purchased in March because of the way that new number plates are issued. So in some senses the stellar performance of the market is unsurprising.
In the first quarter of 2016 a total of just under 770,000 new cars were registered, topping off four years of strong growth for the industry as a whole. Analysts believe that as well as a sign of economic recovery, the increase in new car sales has been spurred on by the availability of favourable finance packages, PCP deals and other offers.
Automakers based in the UK have also taken advantage of a strengthening export market, with companies such as Jaguar Land Rover managing to find success both domestically and overseas.
SMMT spokesperson Mike Hawes said that the British car-buying public were not only showing an ongoing desire to invest in new vehicles, but they also wanted to select models that offer lower fuel consumption and emissions. While AFVs still represent a small slice of the market, the double-digit sales growth bodes well for the future of this segment.
The report also found that the most popular car in the UK is still the Ford Fiesta, which with almost 23,500 units registered last month is easily ahead of the second-place Corsa. Vauxhall’s supermini managed to shift over 17,300 units in March, ahead of the 14,000 Ford Focus models that were snapped up by UK motorists.
The Focus maintained a 1000-unit lead over the Volkswagen Golf, while the compact crossover fever which has swept the nation in recent years is reflected in the fact that Nissan managed to sell 11,355 Qashqais to earn fifth position in the charts.
The final five cars in the top ten were the VW Polo, Vauxhall Astra, MINI, Fiat 500 and Audi A3. And with many manufacturers planning to introduce next-generation cars in 2016, there will be no shortage of compelling options available to buyers.
Economics expert Howard Archer told the Express that while this report on new car sales was promising, there were some concerns about whether or not the market would be able to sustain current levels of growth in the rest of 2016 due to uncertainty over the results of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Whichever way the vote goes in June, it will have significant ramifications for the country’s economy. And analysts expect that this will translate into a higher degree of consumer caution in the run-up to this event.
Meanwhile, other observers have pointed out that while car sales are setting records, there has been a slowdown in the property market, and people are choosing to put their money into purchasing vehicles rather than attempting to save for mortgages, as house prices remain unattainably high for many first-time buyers.
Whether this trend will persist or whether a crash in the housing market will cause wider upheaval in the next few years remains to be seen. But car manufacturers seem somewhat optimistic at the moment, and finance deals have made new cars more accessible