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UK new car market to grow 1.7% in 2015, forecasts IHS Automotive

Newly released SMMT data shows that January registrations got off to a strong start, with registrations within the fleet sector up 18.1% to 89,640 units. Overall the UK car market was up 6.7% last month to 164,856 units from 154,562 at the start of 2014.

The positive start to 2015 follows full-year 2014 figures that the market rose up 9.3%, representing the most registrations in a calendar year since 2004. Fleet sales also saw strong growth, rising 8.7% for the year.

Commenting on the January figures, IHS highlighted strong demand from fleet and business customers, which it said is likely to be driven by the impressive leasing deals that continued to be offered by automakers.

Looking forward to the remainder of the year, a number of factors are likely to have a positive impact on the market according to Colin Couchman, IHS Automotive's light vehicle sales forecasting director. Among them include the quantitative easing announced by the European Central Bank, which is expected to have a positive knock-on effect for the UK economy; cheaper oil and the benefits this will have to fuel costs; and the fall in the exchange rate of the euro which will enable automakers and dealers to continue to offer incentives. Also, a fall in inflation from lower fuel and a supermarket price war are also likely to put an interest rate hike by the Bank of England further into the future. This could result in a minor increase in IHS Automotive's current forecast, which currently sees the UK passenger car market growing 1.7% y/y to around 2.52 million units.

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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.