Fleets are continuing to drive growth in the new car market after the latest sales figures showed a 12.5% increase in year-on-year registrations.
Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that 383,017 cars were registered to ‘fleet’ and ‘business’ in the first three months of the year.
That equates to 52.1% of the overall new car market, which saw 734,588 units registered in Q1 – an increase of 6.8% on the first three months of 2014.
Almost two-thirds (62%) of the cars registered to fleet and business so far this year came in March, equating to 239,731 units out of the 492,774 vehicles registered last month.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The best month this century for new car registrations is a welcome boost for the UK’s thriving automotive sector.
“The challenge for a new Government and industry will be to maintain this momentum and to strengthen Britain’s manufacturing capabilities through continued investment, innovation and policies which maintain our global competitiveness.
“Whatever the general election result, the new Government must keep up the commitment to the sector which is delivering at home and abroad.”
The 37th month of consecutive growth for the new car market shows the continuing demand for new products and new fuel-efficient and advanced technologies.
The UK market surpassed pre-recession levels some seven months ago, helping bolster the economy and drive it out of recession. This growth, supported by domestic manufacturing, has attracted more than £14 billion of investment since 2011, creating almost 30,000 additional jobs.
“The fleet market growth in 2015 is pushed by an improved business confidence,” said Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK.
“We anticipate the market to continue to grow, and have strong expectations ahead of next month’s plate change.”
Benefitting from the fleet sales surge, Nissan posted its strongest ever results for March and Q1. The brand’s corporate sales team registered 13,565 passenger cars in March (up 34% year-on-year) and 22,761in Q1 (up 37% year-on-year).
As a result, Nissan now ranks fifth in the UK fleet car sales charts.
Again the strongest performer was the multi award-winning British-built Qashqai, with 5,778 fleet registrations in March (up 55% year-on-year) and 10,212 in Q1 (up 132% year-on-year).
Nissan also continued to dominate the fleet EV market with March registrations of the 100% electric Nissan LEAF up 63% on the same month last year.
Barry Beeston, corporate sales director at Nissan Motor (GB), said: “Nissan has enjoyed significant and sustained growth in the fleet sector in recent years and these latest numbers – our best ever – put us among the biggest fleet car manufacturers.”
He added: “We can now look forward to a first full year with arguably one of the youngest, most exciting most comprehensive line-ups in the marketplace and I’m confident we can consolidate and grow our position.”
At the same time the brand also performed strongly in the LCV market, registering 2,306 LCVs to fleet customers in March (up 8% year-on-year) and 3,522 in Q1 (up 17% year-on-year).