The UK new car market notched up another record year in 2016, with annual registrations climbing for the fifth successive year to almost 2.7 million, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The market has experienced uplifts in 10 out of the last 12 months, although December was down slightly by 1.1% compared with the same month in 2015, with 178,022 new cars registered in the month. Overall in 2016 registrations were up 2.3% on the previous year at 2,692,786.
Fleets were responsible for most of the growth, with demand growing to a record 1.38 million units. The private market remains at a historically high level, with more than 1.2 million private buyers registering a new car in 2016, although demand did fall over the latter three quarters.
Diesel and petrol cars continued to be by far the most popular fuel types for consumers with market share at 47.7% and 49.0% respectively. However, alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were up 22.2% across the year.
Plug-in hybrids and petrol electric hybrids were up 41.9% and 25.1% respectively, and more than 10,000 motorists chose to go fully electric in 2016 – up 3.3% on 2015.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Despite 2016’s political and economic uncertainties, the UK’s new car market delivered another record performance as car makers offered an incredible range of innovative and high-tech models.
“2017 may well be more challenging as sterling depreciation raises the price of imported goods but, with interest rates still at historic lows and a range of new models arriving in 2017, there are still many reasons for consumers to consider a new car in 2017.
“Looking longer term, the strength of this market will rest on our ability to maintain our current trading relations and, in particular, avoid tariff barriers which could add significantly to the cost of a new car.”