New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that new car sales are rising faster than they have in a decade.
When times are tough and the economy is sluggish, investing in a new car is rarely a top priority for many consumers. Second-hand options are usually more economical, and many will hold off purchasing a motor at all. But as new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows, it seems things are finally picking up within the UK automotive sector.
March saw 464,824 new cars registered, representing an impressive rise of 17.7 per cent compared to the same month during the previous year. It was the second highest figure on record since twice-yearly registrations were first introduced in 1990, which suggests that consumer confidence is definitely improving.
The third month of the year is usually the busiest for car sales – in fact, it is not uncommon for a fifth of all new cars sold in the UK to pass to their new owners in March. But it seems this is part of a growing trend, rather than just a fluke: in the three months up to March, sales rose by nearly 14 per cent to 688,122.
Particularly interesting is the fact that many drivers are thinking more about green issues when they invest in their purchases. Sales of vehicles running on alternative fuels rocketed by more than 60 per cent over the month, though they remain a small proportion of the total with just 8,713 sold.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, described the “surprisingly strong level of growth” as a “reflection of intensifying consumer confidence and the availability of great new products”.
He added that poor economic performance in the past six years had taken its toll on the new car market, but much of the demand that has been subdued during this period is now beginning to manifest.
But as well as growth in the number of people looking to make such a big purchase, Mr Hawes explained there are now more opportunities for customers to do so. Improvements in the range of available finance packages have continued to make it easier to opt for a car straight off the forecourt.
“There has never been a better time to buy a new car thanks to attractive finance deals and advanced technologies that often make new cars cheaper to run,” he added.
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