‘March 2017 hit a new high, with the largest number of new car registrations taking place since records began. 562,337 new cars were registered in the month taking the year to date total to 820,016; an increase of 6.2 per cent in March 2016.
‘Registrations have no doubt been accelerated by the changes to vehicle excise duty which came into force on 1 April 2017 from which all new cars become liable for an annual flat rate of duty, unless they emit zero emissions.
‘Such zero emission vehicles are classified as Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) which saw registrations increase by 31 per cent compared with the same period last year - a clear indication of their continued demand from buyers.
‘Despite recent media focus on the impact of diesel cars on air quality and the steps being taken to tackle the problem, registrations of diesel cars continued to rise by 1.6 per cent. However this was significantly lower than the increase in petrol vehicle registrations, and diesel registrations remain 1 per cent down year to date. This suggests a move by UK buyers away from diesel cars, where market share has reduced from 47.1 per cent to 43.9 per cent year to date.
‘It should be noted that new car registrations do not necessarily equate to new car sales, but while interest rates remain low and strong offers continue from retailers, buyers will take advantage. The results for April will reveal the impact of any early buying activity but there is little to suggest the UK car market is significantly slowing, despite the current economic and political climate.’