Last year saw the best ever performance in the new car market following four years of consecutive growth.
UK new car registrations for 2015 beat 2.6m units for the first time with the market posting increases in all bar one of the past 46 months and a bumper December – the biggest ever, up 8.4% – saw 180,077 new cars registered.
Overall, the market rose 6.3% in 2015 to 2,633,503 units – exceeding forecast and outperforming the last record year in 2003 when 2,579,050 new cars left the UK’s showrooms. This is only the fourth time that the market has surpassed 2.5m vehicles in a full year.
Growth was enjoyed across all sectors, with UK fleets boosting demand by 11.8% to reach an all time high of 1.3m units. Appetite in the private sector, meanwhile, was also robust, up 2.5%.
Gains were reported across all fuel types, with petrol and diesel registrations up 8.4% and 3% respectively with equal market shares. Alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) demand, meanwhile, grew 40.3%, securing the biggest ever market share of 2.8% for a year. Plug-in hybrids experienced phenomenal growth, with volumes more than doubling, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50%.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The new car market defied expectations in 2015, hitting an all time record driven by strong consumer and business confidence. Buyers took advantage of attractive finance deals and low inflation to secure some of the most innovative, high tech and fuel efficient vehicles ever produced.”
John Leech, UK head of automotive at KPMG commented: “With UK consumer confidence for major purchases finally back to pre-financial crisis levels, UK new car sales have surely reached their plateau. Sterling was 12% higher compared to the Euro on average in 2015, which enabled vehicle manufacturers to offer higher incentives to consumers and dealers alike throughout 2015, and this is set to continue in the first quarter of 2016."