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Rising fleet demand helps offset lower private new car registrations

Continued strong demand in the fleet sector helped compensate for a downturn in private registrations last month, new figures show.

Line of cars.

Fleet registrations rose 5.0% to 99,124 units in July

Latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that overall new car registrations rose 0.1% last month to 178,523 units from 178,420 in July 2015.

The fleet market rose 5.0% to 99,124 units from 94,384 units, giving it a 55.5% market share – up from 52.9% for July last year. Sub-25 business registrations were up 1.9% to 6,672 units from 6,550 units.

In contrast, private registrations were down 6.1% to 72,727 units from 77,486 in July 2015, reducing the sector’s market share from 43.4% to 40.7%.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles remained strong with 24.7% more registrations compared with the same month in 2015.

For the year to date, 1,599,159 new cars have been registered, up 2.8% compared to the same period in 2015 following a strong first quarter. Fleet registrations were up 4.7% to 816,607 units while business registrations fell 1.2% to 60,561 units. Private registrations for the first seven months of 2016 rose 1.1% to 721,991 units.

In response, IHS Automotive highlighted that July was the first full month after the country voted to leave the EU. It added that appears to have been little impact from this as yet, particularly as IHS Automotive already anticipated growth slowing in the second half of the year after a record-breaking performance in recent times and two fewer working days, but said Brexit will become a growing factor in the market place in the coming months.

Ian Fletcher, principal analyst, IHS Markit, added: “Although we still expect the full year to record a gain of around 1% y/y, setting another record in the market, we now expect steeper declines in 2017 and 2018.”

Following the SMMT’s recent comments on the need for the UK to retain access to the single market, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015 the market is showing signs of cooling. The automotive market is a vital part of the British economy and it’s important government delivers the economic conditions which instil business and consumer confidence. With low interest rates, attractive finance options and exciting new models coming to the showrooms, the market still has lots to offer customers.”

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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.