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New car registrations continued to rise in January

By raccars Published

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2016 has started with a bang for new car registrations, which rose again in January.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released its monthly new car registration statistics, showing the highest January volumes for 11 years in the first month of 2016. Sales went up by 2.9 per cent year on year to 169,678, fuelled largely by private registrations. Private buyers were responsible for 73,061 of those sales, an increase of 8.2 per cent for the most successful private sector buying spree since 2004. Business sales were also up 5 per cent but the fleet sector slipped slightly to 89,901, a 1.1 per cent fall.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles also boasted a stellar start to 2016, with a sales increase of 32.1 per cent to 6,075 units and a 32.1 per cent market share. Diesel just about outsold petrol at 82,311 units to 81,292 and a market share of 48.5 per cent compared to 47.9 per cent.

The SMMT is optimistic for 2016, predicting a more stable year after a record breaking 2015, but warns that success will depend upon continuing consumer confidence.

New car best sellers in January

There was some interesting shuffling about among the best-selling models of January. While the Ford Fiesta held firm as the number one buy with 8,353 unit sales, the Nissan Qashqai made a great leap to second place with 4,839 unit sales, its best performance ever and pushing the Vauxhall Corsa into third place.

The country's second most popular supermini sold 4,803 units and put the Ford Focus into fourth place with 4,285 unit sales. The VW Golf was fifth with 3,813, while the Nissan Juke took a starring role last month, posting 3,446 new registrations to take sixth place.

The VW Polo was next, in seventh place with 3,298 unit sales, and the Audi A3 was eighth with 3,227 unit sales. The Vauxhall Astra same in ninth on 3,185 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class made a rare appearance, bringing up the rear with 3,022 unit sales and the tenth place.

SUVs overtake superminis as best-selling European segment

Meanwhile full year sales figures for last year show that SUVs outsold superminis for the first time in Europe. SUV sales were up by 32 per cent in 2015, with 3.2 million unit sales, largely driven by smaller SUV models. The SUV sector now owns 22.5 per cent of the market share, while the second favourite supermini sector now takes just shy of 22 per cent. Hatchbacks are the third best-selling automotive segment.

Smaller SUVs posted a 38 per cent rise in sales to 1.2 million units in 2015, led by the Nissan Juke. However the sector as a whole is in very healthy shape, with mid-size SUV sales rising by 42 per cent and large SUV sales up by 27 per cent. Portugal was the SUV hot spot in 2015, with sales of the sector leaping an astonishing 50 per cent year on year, compared to 24 per cent in the UK.

Divided by sub-category, the Renault Captur was Europe's favourite small SUV in 2015, while the Nissan Qashqai was the most popular compact SUV. The Volvo XC60 was the best-selling mid-size SUV model while the BMW X5 was the leading large SUV.

Losses for large saloons and MPVs

At the other end of the scale, sales are sinking in the large saloon and MPV sectors. MPVs lost 1 per cent of sales compared to 2014, while large saloons now take only 0.67 of the total market share and lost 0.05 per cent of sales in 2015.

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