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Glass’s predicts 6% growth in new car registrations for March

Jackson said: ‘New car registrations in February continued in much the same vein as has come to be expected over the last 24 months; vehicle registrations amounted to 68,736 units, representing a growth of 3% versus February 2013, which fell in the range as predicted by Glass’s.

‘Last month’s registrations were the strongest seen for the month of February since 2009. However, on aggregate the market grew at a modest 3% – the weakest percentage growth since August 2012. Looking at seasonally-adjusted growth rates, there is also an indication that growth for February has been relatively sedate compared to recent months with adjusted growth falling back to late 2012 levels.

‘In volume terms, fleet registrations grew 3.6% to 37,029 units and business registrations continued their growth trajectory with an increase of 6.6% versus 2013 to record 1,820 registrations. Private registrations polled a relatively modest 2.1% growth versus 2013 – though one should bear in mind that private growth in 2013 marked a 29% increase over 2012 and 2014 is still the highest February for total private registrations since the scrappage scheme was in effect.

‘The status quo is maintained when looking at registrations by fuel-type. Diesel- and petrol-fuelled registrations accounted for 2.4 and 2.5% respectively, whilst alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) registered a 45% jump in registrations. This still only represents 1,212 registrations; however AFVs market share is now 1.8% year-to-date (YTD) and represents nearly 1,000 additional vehicles versus the 2013 YTD total at this point in the year.

‘The most popular models for February were again Fords, Vauxhalls and Volkswagens. The Fiesta has continued brightly, being both the top model in terms of registration volumes at 4,415 and also holding the second-largest percentage growth in registrations (21%) versus the previous year.

‘Vauxhall’s Corsa in second-place with 3,138 registrations represented a slight decline year on year (YoY). Vauxhall’s Astra jumped to third-spot with 2,707 registrations which represented a YoY growth of 24%, whilst, down in fourth place Ford’s focus totalled 2,566 registrations which correlated to a sizeable 33% drop in registrations versus February 2013.

‘Volkswagen’s bright start to the year has stuttered in February somewhat, with the Golf and Polo taking fifth and sixth places respectively with 1,628 and 1,450 registrations. However in terms of YoY growth this represents a 33% fall in registrations for Golf and a marginal 1% growth for the Polo.

‘Considering the month of February is one of the smallest in terms of volume, it cannot be discounted that the private sector has been waiting until the March plate-change. What has been different in February is that the growth has been much more balanced across the three sectors the registrations are attributed to, and the double-figure growth which many have come to expect of the private sector, has not manifested.

‘March will be an interesting month; it coincides with the advent of the “14 plate”, though private registrations have averaged a 7.6% YoY growth over the last two years when the plate change takes effect. Nonetheless, with offers in the market such as Fiat’s “Say No” campaign which features no deposit and a three month repayment holiday, there are signs that manufacturers are already considering their market share targets seriously and any such deals can only facilitate new registrations.’

He concluded: ‘Given the current trajectory of the market, the Glass’s expectation is that registrations will amount to circa 420,000 units which would represent a year-on-year growth of approximately 6%. The beginning of the year has shown that there is still momentum in new vehicle registrations; March figures will help clarify if the slow-down in growth of private registrations is a temporary plate-change-facilitated pause in the UK success story, and will give indication of what can be expected for Q2 in 2014.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.