DESPITE THE economic uncertainty sparked by Brexit, UK consumers are continuing to buy new cars in record numbers. After the introduction of the “66” registration plate at the beginning of the month, more new cars were registered in September 2016 than in any other September on record: 469,696 of them.
The strong performance follows a record previous year for registrations: more than 2.6m new cars were sold in 2015, a 6% increase on 2014.
In the first nine months of this year a total of 2,150,495 cars were registered in the UK — that’s up by 2.6% on the same period last year. It’s only the second time the 2m barrier has been broken since 2004, suggesting a mood of confidence among consumers tempted by discounts and other incentives from the manufacturers.
However, analysts sounded a note of caution, as sales to private motorists were down by 1.7%. The growth has been driven by buyers of fleets and company cars.
Reports of the death of diesel are exaggerated, though; derv registrations were up 2.6%, while those of alternatively fuelled vehicles (electric and hybrid) rose by a hefty 32.6% to account for 3.4% of the market. Registrations of petrol cars were down by 1.1%.
Ford remains the market leader, although its sales in the first nine months of the year (254,220) were 5.3% down on last year. Vauxhall is next with 202,956 registrations (a 4.3% drop); brands that have seen their market share eroded include Volkswagen (10.7% down), Mitsubishi (18.5%) and Seat (8.9%).
The biggest jump proportionally was in the sales of Infiniti models (up 180% to 2,500 units); Bentley’s sales leapt by 49.8% (to 1,538 cars), Jaguar’s by 47% (to 26,416) and Land Rover’s by 27.6% (to 63,644). All have introduced new or updated models this year.
All these new car registrations mean there’s a healthy used market too. According to the used-car valuation experts CAP-HPI, around 7.6m second-hand cars are set to change hands this year, compared with 7.2m in 2015.