Total new-car registrations fell by 15.7% to 77,092 units in February while fleet registrations fell by 5.9% and business registrations – sales to sub-25 fleets – slumped by a massive 40.5%. A number of manufacturers recorded drops in sales, including Ford – which fell 12.4% year-to-date – and Peugeot, which lost 9.2% over the same period.
Christopher Macgowan, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: ‘February is traditionally a slow month as new car buyers and the motor industry prepare for the surge that accompanies the March plate change.
‘After last year’s significant growth in the first quarter, we expect March registrations to fall by about 6%. While this is lower than last year’s record total, it still represents a new car market in good shape.’
Vauxhall remains the biggest selling manufacturer in fleet with a 2.7% increase year-to-date. Ford is in second place, followed by Volkswagen, which climbed 29.4% compared to last year. Diesels continue to outshine petrol versions with sales of the Vauxhall Astra diesel surging 95.5% over the year compared with 10.3% for the petrol. The Volkswagen Golf diesel also increased 78.2% year-to-date compared with 28.3% for the petrol.
The overall top 10 fleet models list was headed by the new Vauxhall Astra with 11,148 units sold year-to-date giving it a 32.6% increase.
The Ford Focus remains a strong contender and despite falling 18.5% Ford sold 11,482 units so far, putting it in second place. Other strong contenders included the Ford Mondeo in third followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, Vauxhall Vectra, Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane, Vauxhall Zafira, Peugeot 307 and the Volkswagen Passat.
The commercial vehicle (CV) market remained upbeat totalling 19,297 units, up 8.5%. Strong sector growth was noted in car-type pick-ups and medium to heavy vans.
Macgowan added: ‘These record rolling year figures show CV registrations still growing. Strong business confidence is driving investment in vans, trucks and buses.
‘With CV registrations one of the best economic bell-weathers available, the outlook is excellent.’