HERE’S what the industry has to say about today’s SMMT figures, which revealed a 5.1 per cent increase in new car registrations in 2016 Q1, fuelled by the 16-plate change in March.
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: ‘Strong new car sales in the first quarter of 2016 continue to have a positive impact on the UK economy. The March sales, as a result of the plate change, has put the sector in a good position for 2016.’
Richard Jones, MD at Black Horse – one of the UK’s leading motor finance providers – commented: ‘These figures are very encouraging for the industry – with the new plate surge in March giving us a good indication of the outlook for the rest of 2016, which is even more positive than we’d expected, due largely to continued low rates and further PCP growth.
‘At the same time, we anticipate working even more closely in partnership with our dealers in the coming weeks and months to help with an increasing requirement to retail nearly new cars and low mileage stock through appropriately structured finance.’
Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, continued: ‘The new car market kept it’s foot on the accelerator in March, retaining the momentum generated from strong sales at the start of the year. The plate change on March 1st always makes this a crucial month for the sector, and the record-breaking result shows that the industry has again delivered when it matters.
‘It’s not easy to post such impressive numbers in the current environment, with headwinds affecting other parts of the economy and we may well see more modest data in future months, but for now the industry should rightly celebrate a job well done so far in 2016.’
Derren Martin, senior editor at Cap hpi, added: ‘It was particularly interesting to see the recovery in the fleet sector with demand growing by 6.0 per cent, having struggled in January and February. How the industry copes with increasing volumes of vehicles returning to the market, particularly from ‘tactical registrations’ via pre-registrations and short-cycle daily rental channels, will underpin the stability of the used market.
‘Continued strong consumer demand will be the key factor to underpin residual values over the coming months, as record volumes of vehicles return to the market. There will also be an abundance of late-plate cars appearing in the market over the next few months, indeed ’16’ plates were already being advertised on popular used car websites from the early days of March.
‘Concerns around oversupply do need to be tempered with the fact that retail demand for used cars remains healthy – consumers are still actively buying, interest rates are low and the economy remains strong’
James Broadhead, CEO of Close Brothers Motor Finance, concluded: ‘Today’s figures from the SMMT, which highlight a record quarter for car registrations, are particularly impressive and underline the continued strength of the automotive industry. It is also encouraging to see growth across all sales types, with alternative vehicle fuel vehicles seeing a notable increase in sales, on top of diesel and petrol vehicles.
‘While this growth offers huge potential for dealers, it is important that they remain focused on investing sustainably to ensure that they are prepared for whatever may come in the future. Indeed, whilst strength in consumer demand is crucial, dealers must focus on coming up with new and innovative ways to stimulate potential car buyers, particularly as consumer behaviour changes.
‘Not only will this help ensure that growth is maintained throughout 2016, it will also place dealers in the best position possible should any political or economic issues arise which could impact their business.’