Fleet registrations up 6.0% in March following plate change
Figures published today (6 April) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that, overall, 518,707 new cars were registered in March, only the third time the market has surpassed half a million units in a single month and marking a 5.3% growth rate.
The month rounded off a record quarter, in which more than 770,000 new cars were registered – a 5.1% increase over the first quarter in 2015.
Fleet registrations last month totalled 232,729 – up 6.0% on the figure of 219,519 for March 2015. Year to date the fleet sector is up 3.2% from 355,353 units to 366,887 for the quarter as a whole.
Sub-25 ‘business’ registrations also rose last month, with a 15.3% uplift from 20,603 units to 23,763. For Q1, the business sector is up 12.7% from 28,345 units in 2015 to 31,954 for the first three months of this year.
The latest SMMT figures also show that demand for alternative fuel vehicles showed a notable increase of 21.5% in the month, as drivers continued to favour lower emission vehicles with lower running costs. Registrations of both diesel and petrol cars increased, meanwhile, with respective uplifts of 4.8% and 4.7%.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, commented: “The sector’s strong growth in March rounds off a robust first quarter as British consumers continue to demonstrate their appetite for new cars, especially ultra-low emission vehicles. This confidence should see registrations remain at a high but broadly stable level over the year, but could be undermined by political or economic uncertainty.”
Derren Martin, senior editor at cap hpi, also commented on the figures: “It was particularly interesting to see the recovery in the fleet sector with demand growing by 6.0%, having struggled in January and February. How the industry copes with increasing volumes of vehicles returning to the market, particularly from ‘tactical registrations’ via pre-registrations and short-cycle daily rental channels, will underpin the stability of the used market.”
And PwC's automotive leader, Phil Harrold, said of the figures: “Today's figures reflect continuing business and consumer confidence, which will undoubtedly be boosted following the recent motor friendly budget that saw no changes to VED and fuel duty frozen for a sixth year. “Business users continue to replenish fleets as more economical vehicles become available and consumers continue to access the very cheap finance deals that show no signs of abating. “Of particular interest is the growth of alternatively fuelled vehicles as technology becomes more advanced but, more crucially, consumer acceptance levels rise.”