March sales figures hailed as ‘spectacular’ by Barclays

Time 1:59 pm, April 5, 2017

THE record monthly new car registration figures for March 2017 have been met with positive reaction across the industry.

With March setting a new high water mark with the most registrations ever recorded, industry figures have described the month as ‘spectacular’ and a ‘much-needed boost’.

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, acknowledged that 2017 had seen ‘a record month and a record first quarter’ and added: ‘The car industry will be delighted with these spectacular figures.

‘We have to look at the results in context, and there is no doubt that March’s sales have been driven by savvy buyers getting their purchases in before the tax changes were introduced at the start of April. However, that shouldn’t take the shine off today’s numbers.’

James Hind, founder and CEO of carwow, added: ‘The last month made for a crucial time in terms of consumer behaviour in the lead-up to the new set of rules governing VED (Vehicle Excise Duty), which came into effect on April 1.

Financially savvy

‘The introduction of this new rule essentially means that whilst some new cars are now cheaper to tax, others are now significantly more expensive, hence an increased number of Britons using the final weeks of March to make financially savvy decisions regarding the purchase of new vehicles.

‘It will be interesting to now see how April fares in terms of new car sales, and in particular how the VED changes will affect the sales of more environmentally friendly cars, with lower CO2 emissions.’

Paul Kaye, sales and marketing director at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘The demand for new cars in March was given a much-needed boost following a quiet February. Car buyers held out for the new 17-plate and took advantage ahead of the VED rate changes.

‘Despite growth picking back up, rising inflation and the impact on consumer spending could produce headwinds on new car growth and we are already seeing changes in consumer buying patterns.’

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at used car website AA Cars, said: ‘Last month saw a flood of buyers rushing to beat the new vehicle excise duty charges that kicked in at the start of April, making March the biggest ever month for the UK’s new car market. Fleets – hit hardest by April’s tax changes – fuelled the sector’s growth last month as the biggest contributor to new car registrations, driving it up by a significant 12.6 per cent.’

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