The bumper new car registration figure of over half a million vehicles for March was not unexpected at all as manufacturers sought to move cars to the market ahead of the new VED changes, which also coincided with the new registration plate release. The 8.4% boost over last year’s figure shows all fuel types to be on the increase, but the petrol car uplift of 13.2% is significant. With diesel registrations up just 1.6%, albeit to a record-breaking single month volume, the market does appear to be seeing a move away from this fuel type amidst speculation of both increased personal taxation and city centre charging. It will be fascinating to look at the real world retail advertising data in the coming weeks to see how many of these were true registrations and how many were tactical pre-registered units that will bounce straight to the used market.
The year-to-date increase in registrations of 6.2% over 2016 is impressive but unlikely to be sustainable as manufacturers shift production focus to more profitable European countries. Glass’s still predict that the year will finish a more sensible 3.5% lower than 2016. However, when all is said and done, the UK car market remains buoyant with strong consumer demand for both new and used cars - which is really good news.