Fleet demand underpins latest new car registrations
An increase in fleet registrations meant new car volumes
last month were down just 0.3% year-on-year at 83,115 units, according to
latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
February is a traditionally small month for new car
registrations - ahead of the annual march plate change - and, despite the fall
in volume versus February 2016 (83,395), demand in the first two months of 2017
is 1.8% up on last year at 257,679 units (2016: 253,073).
Fleet registrations last month totalled 45,699 units, up
3.3% on February 2016’s 44,253 to take year-to-date volume to 136,886, up 2%
year-on-year (2016: 134,159).
Business sector sales fell 5.3% last month to 1,398 units
(February 2016: 1,477) to leave year-to-date sales down 1.8% at 8,053 (2016:
8,199); and private segment registrations last month fell 4.4% to 36,018
(February 2016: 37,665) to leave year-to-date sales up 1.8% at 112,740 (2016:
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “February is
traditionally one of the quietest months of the year and a steady performance
was expected following another year of record growth in 2016. We expect to see
the market bounce back in March as buyers take advantage of the new ’17-plate,
as well as the last chance to buy a car eligible for current lower Vehicle
Excise Duty rates before they change on 1 April.”
LCV demand also dipped ahead of the March plate change
with registrations down 4.3% at 13,291 (February 2016: 13,891). Year-to-date
van volumes are 1% down at 34,654 (2016: 34,993).
Mr Hawes said: “Following the rapidly growing levels of
demand we’ve seen over the past two years, a decline is not unexpected. The
sector remains in good health and, barring any shocks to business confidence,
we expect demand to remain strong over the coming months.”