It seems like just yesterday that we were getting all excited about September’s plate change, and subsequently the whole-year new car sales report. Well, lo and behold we’re already in mid-April which means the results from the switch to the ‘14’ plate are out. And the results are strong:
- Demand for new 14-plate sees March reach 464,824 new car registrations, a rise of 17.7%. Since move to twice-yearly plate change in 1999, only March 2004 saw higher registrations (at 466,954). (SMMT)
March’s registration figures are doubly important because they provide a true barometer of the market’s strength and people’s willingness to buy. The strength of the month can therefore be seen as a relative demonstration of what we can expect from the rest of the year.
- March is typically biggest month in year accounting for almost a fifth of full-year registrations and year-to-date, registrations are up 13.7% to 688,122 units. (SMMT)
The figures and market strength are backed up by consumer attitudes too, many of whom will have been attracted to affordable PPC finance deals. In addition and quite simply, people have more money:
- The AA-Populus Survey found that 71% of motorists plan to change their car over the next three years. This is in sharp contrast to 2013 when just 55% of motorist said they planned to change their car. (AA)
- The average household disposable income for the UK’s top 40 towns and cities has risen by £1,761 since before the recession to £14,068. (UHY)
Looking more deeply at the figures released by the SMMT demonstrates that while consumers are happy to go and buy a new car, they are being more considered about the vehicles they are buying. For example, two of the segments that have experienced the highest increases in market share are Minis and Superminis. By way of an example, the Ford Fiesta remains stuck to the top of the overall sales chart.
With a smaller size come greater efficiency and a lower environmental impact, and compared to ten years ago, technology has also moved on dramatically. The SMMT revealed that compared to 2004, average MPG was up 35% from 42.2mpg to 57.2mpg; CO2 is 26% lower. Furthermore, this year 67.2% of cars sold paid no first year VED due to being below 130g/km – in 2004 that figure was just 6.5%. The growth in sales of diesels will have been of considerable assistance to the improvements noted.
A final piece to the puzzle of the direction of the market and people’s purchasing decisions comes with alternatively fuel vehicles. March was the biggest-ever month for their sales as volumes reached 8,713 units representing a growth of 63.8% on 2013. Although this is a tiny proportion of the market, it’s interesting to note the level of growth within it, perhaps showing that ‘alternative’ is heading in the right direction towards ‘mainstream’.