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November 2015: new car market returns to growth after October's dip

Price tops new car buyers’ list of priorities

The new car market returned to growth in November, after a decline in October – the first in 44 months.

Compared to November 2014, 3.8% more new cars were registered last month, an increase of 3.8%, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders today. Total November registrations were 178,876 cars.

The overall market in the first 11 months of 2015 has seen 6.2% growth to 2,453,426 units.

All of Volkswagen Group’s mainstream brands saw a year-on-year decline: Volkswagen by 19.99%, Audi 4.41%, Skoda 10.98% and Seat 23.93%.

Competitor brands such as Ford, Vauxhall, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Renault experienced growth, although the picture is mixed: BMW registrations fell, for example, by 3.17%, as did Citroen (-28.84%), Nissan (-18.13%) and Peugeot (-0.74%).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “November’s figures come as a reminder of the strength of the UK car market, as low interest rates and competitive finance deals continue to attract consumers to new car ownership.

“We have been expecting a levelling-off in demand for some time now – a development that is being realised following an unprecedented three-and-a-half years of non-stop growth.”

Demand for both petrol and diesel models remains robust with respective gains of 3.8% and 3.6%, the SMMT said, while the popularity of alternatively fuelled vehicles continues to grow with an 8.6% uplift.

Registrations to fleet buyers (up 8.7%) increased ahead of those to private customers (up 2%), continuing a trend that has been evident for several months.

Sue Robinson, National Franchised Dealer Association director, said: “Growth in the business fleet market indicated continued confidence in the economy.

“Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles were also up in the month which in the light of the recent emissions means that consumers are considering environmental issues at higher levels.

“Competitive pricing, continued low interest rates and strong finance incentives have driven new car sales in 2015, and the NFDA expect the market to remain strong into the New Year.”

Richard Jones, Black Horse managing director, said: “As we head towards 2016 the market is showing signs of cooling on new retail registrations, although combined with the typical slowdown towards the Christmas period, sales are higher versus November 2014.

“Whilst the UK economic outlook and consumer confidence both remain positive, the pace of growth in new car sales has outstripped all these factors in the last few years.

“Even with continued UK economic growth and low interest rates, I expect the market to continue to cool slightly from the previous highs as we head into 2016.

“Also of interest in the November figures is the continued faster growth in fleet registrations (8.7%) versus private (2%).”

New car registrations – rolling-year totals, December 2007 to present

New car registrations graph – rolling-year totals, December 2007 to present

New car registrations: fuel type and private v fleet v business

SMMT new car registration data for November 2015

 

New car registration data from the SMMT

> Registration figures by manufacturer on AMi (free to dealers)

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