United Kingdom vehicle sales at record high in 2016

Tracy FergusonJan 06, 2017

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has today published the latest figures on new auto registrations and adoption of electric vehicles is up 3.3% on 2015, with more than 10,000 motorists choosing to go electric.

However the SMMT is predicting sales could fall as much as 5pc this year as demand for new cars drops from its peak.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, added: "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 vehicle in 2017".

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The country's annual inflation is at the highest level in more than two years as a slide in sterling to multi-year lows against the dollar and euro following the Brexit vote in June has lifted the cost of raw materials imported by Britain.

The Ford Fiesta was, once again, the UK's most popular new vehicle with 120,525 examples of the supermini sold - 55 per cent more than the second place Vauxhall Corsa with 77,110 sales. Growth at the rate we have seen can't continue forever.

The growth is due to a "very strong" consumer confidence with low interest deals and the launch of many new models.

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The SMMT also believes that new auto sales will fall as the market stabilises after years of record growth. December's market result was 1.1% down on a year earlier, with 178,022 new cars registered in the month.

However, in December fleet demand fell for the first time in almost a year, suggesting that it will be hard to match last year's performance in 2017. "This is why we have one of the newest fleets of cars in the western world".

The SMMT also added the United Kingdom new vehicle market is one of the most diverse in the world as it brings 44 brands which offer almost 400 different model types.

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LexAutolease takes a similar view: "A significant year-on-year rise in PCH was a key factor to the SMMT figures, with drivers seeking to keep up with the latest models and benefit from new technology and safety features". "And people want connectivity in their cars". Headline December registrations were -1.1% with private registrations -5.5% completing a third quarter in succession of negative growth in this segment.

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