2017 off to flying start with new car registrations at 12-year high

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Author: | Updated: 06 Feb 2017 11:53

January proved to be another milestone month for the new car industry, with 174,564 vehicles registered in the first 31 days of 2017; that’s a marked 2.9% increase compared to the same period last year, and the highest levels of January registrations since 2005.

The Ford Fiesta remains the UK's most popular car as we enter 2017.

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It was private registrations that provided the strongest growth figure of 5%, accounting for 76,729 cars. Fleet demand also continues to grow, up 1.4% year-on-year, representing an extra 1,200 registrations compared to Jan 2016.

In spite of the rather modest 1.4% increase in fleet (which includes personal contract hire), our own data reveals that personal leasing enquiries at ContractHireAndLeasing were up 36.8% year-on-year.

Alternative fuels increase market share

In what is notoriously one of the quietest months of the year for new car registrations, it was alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) that made the biggest splash, with demand up 19.9% compared to last year. With an extra 7,279 AFVs hitting the road in January, the sector now accounts for an impressive 4.2% of the new car market.

AFV registrations up almost 20% year-on-year.

The rise in AFVs seems to have taken a chunk out of diesels market share, which saw a –4.3% drop compared to January 2016. This means petrol is now the most popular type of fuel, making up 50.7% of all January’s registrations, compared to diesel’s 45.1%.

Commenting on the change, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said: “2017 got off to a good start in the new car market, buoyed by a great range of new models which are safer and cleaner than ever before. It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share.”

Predictions for 2017

While January’s registrations proves that the UK’s car market remains robust and competitive, the new car market is still expected to cool somewhat over the next year, with 2016’s record-breaking number of new registrations predicted to be hard to match.

It's been the busiest January since 2005 for new car registrations

Hawes commented: “After record growth in 2016, some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges.”

The top ten

It’s business as normal as we break into 2017 for the top ten best-sellers with the Ford Fiesta retaining its crown with a healthy lead, while the other usual suspects start to fight it out and find their place.

Mercedes’ C-Class has shot up to number four, while the Sportage has crept back on to the shortlist too. We’ll have to wait a few more months to see how they fare long term though…

January 2017

Year-to-date

1. Ford Fiesta – 8,495

1. Ford Fiesta – 8,495

2. Volkswagen Golf – 5,455

2. Volkswagen Golf – 5,455

3. Ford Focus – 4,796

3. Ford Focus – 4,796

4. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 4,230

4. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 4,230

5. Vauxhall Astra – 4,065

5. Vauxhall Astra – 4,065

6. Nissan Juke – 3,929

6. Nissan Juke – 3,929

7. Vauxhall Corsa – 3,898

7. Vauxhall Corsa – 3,898

8. Nissan Qashqai – 3,500

8. Nissan Qashqai – 3,500

9. Audi A3 – 3,118

9. Audi A3 – 3,118

10. Kia Sportage – 3,063

10. Kia Sportage – 3,063

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