UK registrations boosted by fleet market & ultra low emission vehicle demand
Latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and traders (SMMT) show that registrations last month rose 2.4% to 198,706 units, marking the 39th consecutive month of growth in the market.
Fleet registrations were up 4.5% from 96,240 units to 100,599 units, giving it a 50.6% share of the market – up from 49.6% for May 2014. However the sub-25 ‘business’ sector saw an 11.5% decline from 7,084 units to 6,266 units. In comparison, private registrations rose 1.2% to 91,841.
For the year to date, the total market rose 5.7% to 1,119,072 units from 1,058,974 for the same period in 2014. The fleet market was up 11.8% to 549,022 units from 491,232 for the first five months of 2014. The business market remained down, with the total of 41,318 units marking a 9.5% decrease on the 45,644 units for the same period last year. Private registrations were up 1.3% to 528,732 units.
The SMMT also reported a four-fold rise in ULEVS for the January to May period, reaching a total of 11,842 compared to the 2,838 registrations in the same period last year. It said that the growth is further evidence of UK car buyers’ increasing awareness of the cost and eco benefits of driving a ULEV. Increased model choice is also playing a part, with around 20 ULEVs available to buy now, compared to just six in 2011. (For a further breakdown of figures, click here.)
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, commented: "The remarkable growth in demand for plug in vehicles is expected to continue as the range of ultra low emission vehicles on sale increases. Meanwhile, we anticipate a natural levelling out of the overall new car market throughout the remainder of 2015.”
David Raistrick, UK automotive leader at Deloitte, added: “It was always going to be a tough challenge for the UK new car market to maintain its run of comparative monthly growth, despite the strong start to the year.
“The growth in fleet sales has been key to the UK new car market maintaining this upward trend, as there has been a distinct slowing in the increase in private sales, compared to 2014. May’s results showed that the increase in new cars sold to private buyers over the first five months rose by only c6,600, compared to a rise of c57,700 for the first five months of last year. Yet growth in fleet sales has increased from 40,000 cars to 58,000 cars in the same period.
“This could be the first real indication that the consumer led growth, which kick-started the UK new car market nearly three years ago, is levelling off and is not sustainable. With the UK car parc standing at around 32.6 million cars on the road, this represents over one car for every two people. This figure suggests that there is little prospect of the UK car parc increasing significantly enough to allow for the continued rate of growth in new car sales, whilst also supporting the used car market and underpinning residual values.
“Recent car production data also highlighted that whilst production for the year has passed 500,000 cars, this is actually down 1.4% on the same period last year. Manufacturers were relying on supply in the UK car market to make up for a 7% drop in vehicles for export.