registrations top 3 million
Ford Fiesta kept its title as Britain's top-selling car
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UK car sales record

  • Highest ever number of new cars for UK market
  • 2,692,786 registered in 2016, up 2.3% on previous year.
  • Fifth consecutive year of growth
  • Alternatively fuelled vehicles up 22.2% with plug-in hybrids up 41.9%
  • 10,000 fully electric cars sold
  • December only second month of negative growth in 2016, as registrations dip 1.1% to 178,022 units.

FLEET sales drove the car and van markets to new records in 2016, as the combined total registrations top 3 million for the second year in figures just published.

The fleet business was pertinent to  a 2,692,786 new car sales record in 2016, with registrations up for the fifth year in a row, this time by 2.3%, according to SMMT figures just published.

Meanwhile van sales, detailed below, grew 1% to 375,687 – despite a year-on-year dip in December also experienced in the car market – bringing a combined  total of 3,068,473 compared with 3,005,333 in 2015.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders statistics show  fleet sales grew by nearly 5% to a record 1.38 million cars and account for more than half of the market.

Lauren Pamma, head of fleet consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: “The fleet market saw robust growth in 2016 with new cars accounting for more than half of the total UK registrations. A significant year-on-year rise in Personal Contract Hire (PCH) was a key factor, with drivers seeking to keep up with the latest models and benefit from new technology and safety features.

“The SMMT’s figures on the growth in alternative fuel vehicle registrations reflect what we’re seeing.

“Ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) still make up a tiny percentage of cars on the road, but as businesses seek to reduce their carbon footprints, and with the Government set to protect these vehicles from recent changes to benefit in kind tax and encourage investment in new charging infrastructure, ULEVs should continue to take fleet market share from traditional fuel vehicles over the next 12 months.”

The car market has experienced uplifts in 10 out of the last 12 months, albeit finishing with a December 1.1% down on 2015 – with 178,022 new cars registered in the month.

With seven different manufacturers in the top ten list of best-selling cars headed once again by the Ford Fiesta, buyers were attracted by a range of new models and attractive finance deals, pushing registrations up to 2,692,786 in 2016.

The UK new car market is one of the most diverse in the world, with some 44 brands offering nearly 400 different model types – and 2017 looks set to be another competitive year with almost 70 new launches already planned over the next 12 months.

Fleets were responsible for most of the growth, but the private market remains at a historically high level, with more than 1.2 million private buyers registering a new car in 2016, although demand did fall over the latter three quarters.

new car sales record

The competitive range of affordable finance is a crucial factor driving private demand as consumers are able to take advantage of low interest rates and flexible payment options.

Diesel and petrol cars continued to be by far the most popular fuel types for consumers with market share at 47.7% and 49.0% respectively. However, alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) experienced a strong uplift in demand, up 22.2% across the year.

Plug-in hybrids and petrol electric hybrids, in particular, experienced significant growth, with demand up 41.9% and 25.1% respectively. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 motorists chose to go fully electric in 2016 – up 3.3% on 2015.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Despite 2016’s political and economic uncertainties, the UK’s new car market delivered another record performance as car makers offered an incredible range of innovative and high tech models.

new car sales record

“2017 may well be more challenging as sterling depreciation raises the price of imported goods but, with interest rates still at historic lows and a range of new models arriving in 2017, there are still many reasons for consumers to consider a new car in 2017.

“Looking longer term, the strength of this market will rest on our ability to maintain our current trading relations and, in particular, avoid tariff barriers which could add significantly to the cost of a new car.”

new car sales record

Pick-ups and big vans lead LCV growth

2016 record for vans and pick-up trucks

  • New light commercial vehicle registrations rise 1.0% to 375,687 units
  • Ford CV sales up 14.6% to 118,000
  • Four consecutive years growth.
  • Pick-ups surge to 47,715 – up 7,127 or 17.6%.
  • Heavy vans dominate sector, up 10,606 or 4.8% to 232,948

NEW vans and pick-up trucks hit a new LCV registrations record in 2016 – despite tailing off in December.

A total 375,687 new light commercials were registered in the year – up 1% to the highest ever level and marking the fourth consecutive year of growth, with market leader Ford accounting for nearly one in three new LCVs.

The December figure was still the second highest on record and the drop of 10.4% was against the 2015 figure for the month when there was all-time record growth of 14.6%.

The end of the year also saw a continued rise in demand for pick-up trucks, up 52.2% to 3,840 in the last month after a year of new model launches.

Overall in 2016, pick-ups were the biggest success story of the year, with 47,715 vehicles leaving showrooms – an uplift of 17.6%.

LCV registrations record The segment grew significantly in every month except for January, culminating in the bumper December.

Meanwhile, heavy vans weighing 2.5-3.5T also grew in the year by 4.8% to 232,948 units to take a 62% market share as smaller van registrations declined.

Overall Ford again dominated th commercial vehicle market with CV sales in 2016 of 118,000 were up by 14.6% compared with 2015.

Ford Transit has led the UK CV sector from its launch in 1965 and Ford’s CV range secured a 30.6% share in 2016, up from 24.8% in 2015.  Ford’s CV sales lead of 71,898 in 2016 increased by 38.8% compared with 2015.

Ford commercial vehicles led all of their respective segments for the full year, including the Ford Ranger which achieved record sales in 2016; 13,292, up over 65% compared with 2015.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Another record year for light commercial vehicles is great news, even with marginal growth, and underlines the fundamental strength of the sector.

“To ensure future fleet investment and growth in this important market, buyers – and manufacturers – are looking for a strong economy and business environment.”

LCV registrations record


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