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Fleet registrations reach all-time high in 2015

Latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that UK new car registrations for 2015 beat 2.6 million units for the first time after a 6.3% rise in demand, exceeding the forecast.

The latest rise marks four years of consecutive growth, with the UK car market having posted increases in all bar one of the past 46 months.

Figures were bumped up by the overall market's highest ever performance in December, which saw 180,077 new cars registered – up 8.4%.

Fleet demand rose by 11.8% in 2015 to reach an all-time high of 1.3 million units. The sector was also boosted by a strong December, which saw fleet registrations rise 13.8% to 103,000 units.

Conversely, the sub-25 ‘Business’ market recorded a decline, with the total for 2015 down 9.6% to 107,121 units whilst the December figure fell 51.0% to 5,473.

Private demand however saw an increase of 2.5% for the year overall and 10.9% in December.

Across the market, gains were reported for all fuel types in 2015, with petrol and diesel registrations up 8.4% and 3% respectively with equal market shares. Alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) demand, meanwhile, grew 40.3%, securing the biggest ever market share of 2.8% for a year. Plug-in hybrids experienced phenomenal growth, with volumes more than doubling, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50%.

Some strong gains were seen amongst the manufacturers too, with Jaguar up 30.2% for the year and Land Rover at 18.5% – with the brands collectively seeing registrations exceed 100k for the first time in the UK. Meanwhile Mazda was up 20.4%, Renault rose 14.0% and BMW increased registrations 12.4%. Amongst the Volkswagen Group, Audi was up 4.9% and Volkswagen 4.2% but Skoda declined 1.0% and SEAT was down 11.0%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The new car market defied expectations in 2015, hitting an all-time record driven by strong consumer and business confidence. Buyers took advantage of attractive finance deals and low inflation to secure some of the most innovative, high tech and fuel-efficient vehicles ever produced. The past four years have seen a remarkable period of sustained growth, and the outlook remains positive with every reason to expect the market to hold broadly steady in 2016.”

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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.