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Fleet registrations put in strong performance in January

Data for last month shows that registrations within the fleet sector rose 18.1% to 89,640 units from 75,929 for the same month in 2014 – making January the strongest month for fleets since December 13. Meanwhile sub-25 "business"registrations also saw growth, albeit more muted, of 3.3% from 7,340 units to 7,580. In contrast private registrations fell 5.1%.

Overall the UK car market was up 6.7% last month to 164,856 units from 154,562 at the start of 2014.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘These figures mark an encouraging start to the year after a very strong 2014, with a strikingly robust company car market as businesses take advantage of the attractive finance offers currently available.

‘January saw increased uptake of both petrol and diesel cars, while demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continued its surge with registrations rising by 60.8%. Registrations of plug-in vehicles were particularly strong as consumers responded to a greater choice of makes and models delivering lower running costs.

‘Last year’s 9.3% rise in the overall market was fuelled by stronger than expected economic confidence and, for 2015, we expect to see some levelling off throughout the year: demand is back to pre-recession levels following record-breaking growth.’

Commenting on the figures released, Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PwC, said: ‘This 35th consecutive month of growth in the UK automotive market demonstrates the increasing confidence of both consumers and businesses. People are feeling empowered to make decisions on vehicles and we are almost back to a pre-recession approach to car buying. The significant increase in company car registrations shows that businesses are confident and willing to invest in their fleets – welcome signs for the automotive industry.

‘The rise in registrations of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) shows that consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with AFVs as a concept. With battery replacement cost and range still concerns for consumers, it will probably be a number of years before they become the mainstream but this is certainly the start of the rise of AFVs.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.