2016 new vehicle market closed with record 2.7 million registrations

The Ford Fiesta was the most popular new vehicle in the United Kingdom in 2016 - as it has been for many years.

There were 2.69 million cars registered previous year, a rise of two per cent on 2015, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). "BVRLA members buy many of these vehicles, and while these sales will be classed as fleet registrations, they are often leased to consumers". We also anticipate trends in the aftersales market to be robust given the rising United Kingdom auto parc, albeit note potential cost pressures with the apprenticeship levy as previously flagged.

There are now 44 mainstream auto brands offering nearly 400 different model types in Britain - and 2017 looks set to be another busy year with almost 70 new models due to arrive in the next 12 months. The SMMT also attributes the growth to a wide range of attractive finance deals available to buyers. She said: "You can pay the balloon payment, but most people don't, they return the auto ..."

That could mean an increase of around £400 on the price of a new Ford Fiesta Zetec, for example. Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles were up 22% year-on-year, giving the sector a 3.31% market share of all sales. No surprise really, considering everything points towards a hybrid and all-electric future.

The market has experienced uplifts in 10 out of the last 12 months, albeit finishing with a December down slightly by minus 1.1% - with 178,022 new cars registered in the month.

Diesel and petrol cars continued to be by far the most popular fuel types for consumers with market share at 47.7% and 49% respectively - 1,276,871 diesel cars against 1,283,857 petrol.

2016 saw new auto sales in the United Kingdom reach an all-time high for the second consecutive year, but stark warnings have been issued for this year.

Although that is a steep drop, chief executive Mike Hawes says it will not be "a collapse in the market" and that auto sales will still be at "an incredibly high level". "The truth is there's a latent demand built up from 2011 after several tough years during the recession, and we expect that to lose some of its momentum in the year ahead". "If this important sector's growth is to continue, the right trading conditions must be maintained to keep the whole industry internationally competitive".

He said: "This is historically an incredibly high level. We're not talking about a collapse".

  • Rogelio Becker