Sales of new cars rose at their fastest pace for a decade, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The March new car market was just 2,130 units short of the 2004 record total. The top selling cars in March and in the year to date was the Ford Fiesta, followed by the Ford Focus.
There were 464,824 new car registrations, a rise of 17.7% on a year earlier. The sales figure was also the second highest on record since the introduction of twice-yearly car registrations in 1999. In the three months leading to March, car sales rose 13.7% to 688,122, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders added.
March is typically the busiest month in the year, it accounts for almost a fifth of all car sales annually. In terms of colour, white was the most popular car colour in March 2014, compared with silver in March 2004.
Mike Hawes, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ Chief Executive, said, “New car registrations surged 17.7% in March to 464,824 units, a surprisingly strong level of growth and a reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products. Given the past six years of subdued economic performance across the UK, there is still a substantial margin of pent-up demand that is contributing to a strong new and used car market.
He continued by adding that they “expect the market to continue to perform positively for the rest of the year, albeit at a more modest rate”, noting how attractive finance deals and advanced technologies that often make new cars cheaper to run have made this one of the best times to buy a new car.
Data released by IHS Global Insight last month revealed that consumer confidence in Britain has risen to a 7 year high. They downplayed the impact that a rise in inflation rates will have on demand in the property market by highlighting that as wages begin to pick up and the gap between income growth and inflation begins to narrow, that consumer spending power will rise organically.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, believes that the continual rise in car sales within the country was “extremely good news for the car industry”, and forecasted that the car industry’s performance this year could have a significant impact on growth figures for the first three months of this year.
The booming market was also the best month for alternatively fuelled cars that the UK has ever seen, with sales increasing 63.8 per cent to reach 8,713 models sold. Sales of pure electric cars boast the biggest growth in sales, increasing by 202.6 per cent to 823 units sold in March 2014, compared to just 272 in March 2013. Other types of plug-in cars such as range-extended and plug-in hybrid models increased 92.6 per cent to 378 units sold throughout the month.
In total 1,201 Plug-in Car Grant eligible cars registered in the month, meaning that a total of 8,696 eligible cars have registered worth up to £5,000 to buyers of electrified cars.
Nissan was one of the major beneficiaries of growing electric cars sales in the country with 630 sales during March 2014, up 255 per cent on March 2013 and accounting for 76.55 per cent of all fully electric cars sold in the month. In the year to date, 898 LEAFs have sold, representing 73 per cent of the electric car market in the UK, with sales totaling 1,229 units.
More than 7,000 petrol hybrid models also sold last month, accounting for the bulk of alternative fuel vehicle sales. Sales data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, also shows that average mpg of new cars sold in the UK has improved 35 per cent, from 42.4mpg to 57.2mpg, since March 2004. Average new car CO2 emissions are 26 per cent lower than a decade ago.
Would do you think has caused this increase in new car sales in the UK, could it be because of financing schemes or increased marketing?