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Fleet demand underpins latest new car registrations

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: 110,715).  

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.”