UK car registrations highest since 2004

British car registrations rose 8.4% to 83,395 units last month, marking the highest number since February 2004, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) [1].

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “February is typically one of the quietest months of the year, ahead of March’s plate change, but this positive performance is encouraging and puts the sector in a good position for the coming 12 months” [1].

Industry experts have forecast that the UK will be making around 1.79 million cars in 2016 and 1.95 million cars a year by 2017, higher than the all-time record of 1.92 million in 1972 [2].

Howard Archer, Chief European and UK Economist at IHS Global Insight, noted that “car sales continue to impress… bucking the recent trend of largely disappointing UK economic news” [3].

Private buyers led the increase with demand up 22.6%, while corporate fleet sales fell 1.4%. Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles were up by a fifth, while diesel and petrol cars grew by 5.6% and 10.7% respectively [3].

Richard Jones, Managing Director of Black Horse, part of Lloyds Banking Group, agrees that these are encouraging figures for the UK automotive industry: “The increase can be attributed to a combination of further growth in PCP [Personal Contract Purchase] financing, ongoing low interest rates for consumers, and continued high levels of manufacturer subsidisation, driving up the volume of affordable new cars coming into the UK market” [3].

[1] Reuters UK. ‘UK new car registrations rise 8.4% year-on-year in Feb – SMMT’.
[2] MarketWatch. ‘UK new car registrations rise 8.4%.
[3] The Guardian. ‘UK car registrations highest since 2004’.