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New car market rises but fleet registrations decline in January

Newly released figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that overall registrations climbed 2.9% compared to January 2015, reaching a total of 169,678 units.

Private registrations rose 8.2% to 73,061 units – the highest level since 2004 – while the sub-25 ‘Business’ sector was up 5.0% to 6,716 units. In contrast

However the fleet sector declined slightly by 1.1% to 89,901.

Diesel registrations remained stable, up 0.6%, while petrol registrations grew by 3.7%. 

Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles continued to grow in popularity – and market share – with registrations up by 32.1% on January 2015, to account for a record 3.6% of registrations.

Petrol hybrids showed the largest growth – up 44.1% to 3,783 cars, while plug-in hybrid demand grew 32.3% to 1,592 vehicles and pure electric cars enjoyed an uplift of 14.1% to 584 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “January’s solid performance puts the new car sector in a good position to start the year. Providing consumer confidence remains strong, we expect a more stable 12 months ahead, broadly similar to 2015 which was, of course, a record year.”

Commenting on the figures, Steve Jackson, chief car editor at Glass’s, added: ”New car registrations hit an 11-year high for January 2016, as earlier forecast by Glass’s. Consumer demand has broadly driven the increase with a number of new models available. This, combined with low interest rates and creative finance campaigns with PCP, have helped drive this record number. Fleet however has slipped slightly by 1.1% on the same period last year.

“Overall, there is no doubt that manufacturers have hit 2016 running and intend to make it yet another success on the registration front. 

“Glass’s continue to watch the market closely, forecasting a 3% growth, and have also witnessed larger numbers of used vehicles in the wholesale market from dealers and captive finance companies as well as fleet vendors compared to the same period 2015.”

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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.