March registration data shows confidence in business sector
According to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), new car registrations to the sub-25 fleet sector rose 12.7% last month to 23,320 units, compared to 20698 for the same month in 2010. This boosted the sector's market share up from 5.2% to 6.4%.
Fleet registrations also saw a rise, albeit it being more marginal. New car registrations to this sector increased 1.3% in March to 166,356 units, which also increased its market share from 41.3% to 45.4%.
In comparison, private registrations declined 17% and the total market figure was down 7.9%, although the SMMT said that this is actually up 5.9% on 2010 with scrappage volumes excluded.
Year to date, fleet and business registrations have shown modest growth in the first quarter of the year, up by 1.0% and 5.5% respectively. However, private demand has weakened following the ending of the scrappage scheme, although the SMMT said that the 18.7% decline was in line with industry expectations.
Looking at the total registrations, the Q1 figure was down 8.7%, but at 558,336 units, was over 11,000 units ahead of expectations.
The SMMT said that the market is expected to decline further in Q2, before stabilising and recovering in the second half of the year to show a net decline of 5.0% to 1.93 million units.
'The UK saw 366,101 new cars registered in March, demonstrating sustained demand in what is traditionally the biggest month of the year,' said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. 'Despite a dip versus 2010, the market remains on course to meet SMMT’s forecast for the year with motorists buying increasingly fuel-efficient and low emitting vehicles across every segment.'
Commenting on the figures, David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at Deloitte, said: 'Today’s figures showing a decline in new car registrations come as no great surprise. March 2010 was the final month of the scrappage scheme so it was inevitable we would see a fall this month by comparison to last year. With scrappage accounting for around 13% of new vehicles in March 2010, the fact that sales have only fallen by 7.9% suggests these figures may not be quite as bad as it would first seem.
'The industry continues to face a number of other underlying challenges across both corporate and private sales. We have seen an increase in the length of ownership across the corporate sector over the last few years as spending is reduced and this trend has continued in 2011.'
He added: 'A decrease in new car registrations is often accompanied by an increase in used car sales, as private consumers look to buy second hand vehicles in a bid to reduce costs. However, given we saw reduced new car sales several years ago as the UK economy faltered, we now have a limited supply of nearly new used cars. I therefore expect to see an increase in residual values as the year progresses, making used cars more expensive for consumers.'