New record for car registrations

A UK record for new sales was set in March, according to just-published figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figure of 518,707 new registrations was the highest for one month since the license plate change to twice a year in 1999. The figure was also 5.3 per cent higher than 12 months ago and also helped the industry to set a new quarterly record, with sales of 770,000 new vehicles.

The higher sales of new cars mean there are also more used vehicles available, which will make the second-hand car market more competitive. To secure used car customers, it’s important to offer clients a good experience in the showroom, so as well as your general motor trade insurance, make sure you have good levels of demonstration cover to provide test drives.

The SMMT statistics showed that business registrations enjoyed the biggest increase in March, rising by 15.3 per cent. Fleet sales were up by six per cent and private sales by 3.8 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The sector’s strong growth in March rounds off a robust first quarter as British consumers continue to demonstrate their appetite for new cars, especially ultra-low emission vehicles.

"This confidence should see registrations remain at a high but broadly stable level over the year, but could be undermined by political or economic uncertainty.”

The data showed confidence in the business sector, according to accountancy giants PwC, which also noted the rise in popularity of alternatively-fuelled vehicles among buyers.

Meanwhile, Derren Martin of Cap HPI said the statistics were important to the used car industry.

He said: “How the industry copes with increasing volumes of vehicles returning to the market, particularly from ‘tactical registrations’ via pre-registrations and short-cycle daily rental channels, will underpin the stability of the used market."