March car registrations ‘impressive’

…But what’s on the horizon?

“It is encouraging to see that new car registrations were up an impressive 5.3 per cent in March following demand for the new 16-plate change” said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, commenting on the SMMT’s new car registration figures.

Robinson continued, “Consumer confidence has been rising as a result of a recovering economy. Fewer concerns about unemployment and the improvements of household finances due to low inflation and pay rises have all helped to encourage consumers to buy new cars.

“The March market has been assisted by the new plate change which encourages consumers to replace their existing vehicle. In addition, strong manufacturer deals and low cost finance offers are boosting consumer confidence to buy.

“During the first few months of this year the UK Economy has remained strong as originally predicted. On the back of this, the car market has seen an increase of 2.9 per cent in January, 8.4 per cent in February and 5.3 per cent in March compared to this time last year. We are pleased to see this growth has made a significant contribution to the UK Economy.

“In 2016, UK GDP seems to be set to increase by 2.2 per cent and we are confident and hopeful that the automotive sector as well as the UK economy will continue to perform well throughout the remainder of the year”.

Referendum could affect car sales

John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG, also commented on the 17-year high March registration figures. He said:

“The UK 5.3 per cent growth in the new car market in March continues the recent trend of strong new car sales due to buoyant consumer confidence and attractive PCP finance deals. We anticipate that the market will start to cool from April as the weaker Pound, caused by the impending EU referendum, starts to feed into increased transaction prices.  Overall the first quarter was up 5.1 per cent and we expect that 2016 will set another all-time record for new car sales in the UK.”

Rupert Pontin, Head of Valuations at Glass’s, commented: “…With anecdotal feedback from franchised dealers suggesting a double digit percentage of these are pre-registered vehicles, consideration must be given to the view that the manufacturers are working to bring volume forward to the first half of the year in a bid to avoid any stagnation in the market as a result of the EU referendum in June and subsequent possibility of a Brexit.

“It is also great to see that the volume of AFV’s is increasing rapidly as this is essential to help the UK market meet European emission commitments in the coming years. Actually reviewing what is being sold is very important, and it is vital to remember that this sector of the market will be further enhanced as EV technology is both fully understood by the customer and tested in the market. Range remains the key, specifically for all electric vehicles and with volumes ever increasing, development of used car customers will be critical.

Key movers for the month by manufacturer are Infiniti up 156 per cent on the same period last year which is no doubt as a result of the new Q30, Ssangyong at 115 per cent as a result of the new Tivoli, Abarth at 105 per cent, SMART at 88 per cent with the revised range and Jaguar posting a 45 per cent improvement due to the reasonably new XE. Volkswagen group registrations seem to have stabilised too as buyers become more confident in the brand once again.

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