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Outlook for UK new car registrations remains promising, says Glass’s

The firm’s comments come as March 2014’s new car registrations hit an impressive 464,824 units – the highest volume on record for the month of March since 2004, and a jump of 17.7% versus this month last year

Andrew Jackson, head of analytics at Glass’s, said: ‘From a seasonally-adjusted perspective, the evidence indicates that the low levels seen in February for Business and Fleet registrations were as a result of deferred purchasing behaviour in anticipation of the 14-plate.

‘Fleet registrations grew by 13.5% YoY to 194,955 units and Business registrations boomed with a 23.4% YoY growth compared to that in 2013, totalling 23,209. Private registrations meanwhile delivered a startling 20.8% growth or 246,660 units.

‘This pent-up demand goes some way to explaining the overwhelming reversal of fortunes for the sectors with the exceptionally large spikes in growth registered for both Fleet and Business registrations, not to mention Private sales retained its impressive growth trajectory also.

‘When looking at registrations by fuel-type, diesel- and petrol-fuelled registrations grew at 18.8% to 222,409 and 15.6%, to 233,702, respectively. Alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) registered a 63.8% jump in registrations, accounting for an additional 3,395 units in March alone and 4,345 more for the year-to-date versus 2013. This represents 1.9% of year-to-date registrations, 0.5% more than in 2013 at this point in the year.’

With April typically being a post-March “hangover” month with lower volumes in absolute terms, the seasonally adjusted trend of growth for Fleet and Business registrations should be fractionally softer than in recent months, whilst Private sales growth should remain stable, according to Jackson.

He added: ‘The expectation for April is that registration growth will stabilise and result in circa 170,000 units being registered and would represent a year-on-year growth of approximately 4%.

‘Nonetheless, as Q1 figures are now in and growth is showing no signs as yet of slowing, the market is looking promising for a total annual figure of 2.37 million vehicles as predicted by Glass’s in January.

‘Obviously, there is still a long way to go. However, a key point to consider, as we venture into Q2, is that the market would now have to go into contraction during the remainder of the year in order to “hit” a growth target of 1%. In a marketplace where inflation is falling and economic confidence is growing, that would appear to be an increasingly unlikely scenario indeed.’

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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.