More cars were registered in March than any other month for the last 16 years thanks to fleet buyers as companies feel more confident with the economy, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.
There were 492,774 cars registered – the best since the twice-yearly number plate changes introduced in 1999 – making March the 37th consecutive month of growth for the UK’s new car market.
Experts put the boost down to new products and financial packages, along with low interest rates but it was companies buying up fleets that was particularly helpful – with sales up 11.6 per cent year on year in the sector. Registrations so far this year have increased 6.8 per cent to 734,588. Mike Hawes, the society’s chief executive, said: “The best month this century for new car registrations is a welcome boost for the UK’s thriving automotive sector.
“The challenge for a new government and industry will be to maintain this momentum and to strengthen Britain’s manufacturing capabilities through continued investment, innovation and policies, which maintain our global competitiveness.”
He added UK car production is expected to exceed pre-recession levels this year, helped by a strong export market, which delivered revenues of £26.2bn in 2014, with 257,300 cars rolling off UK production lines
The biggest-selling cars in the UK remains Ford, with 63,470 new cars registered in March, followed by Vauxhall with 48,689, and Volkswagen selling 38,685 cars.
At the higher end Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold 29,153, 26,925 and 26,616 respectively, while at the top end 250 Bentleys were registered, 212 Aston Martins and 202 Maseratis all joined Britain’s roads.
BMW said its Mini brand as well as its BMW marque achieved record UK sales in the month, while Ford also hailed a record for UK sales.
However, Mr Hawes warned with the general election coming up, politicians must fight for the UK to stay in the EU for the automotive industry’s future success.
He added: “Whatever the general election result, the new government must keep up the commitment to the sector which is delivering at home and abroad.”
SMMT also pointed out that the growth in domestic manufacturing has brought in more than £14bn of investments to the UK since 2011, creating around 30,000 jobs.
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