RAC Cars News


New car registrations hit record numbers in 2015

By raccars Published

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Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that new car registrations hit a record high of more than 2.63 million in 2015.

After four consecutive years of growth in the new car market, 2015 turned out to be the best year ever for new car sales in the UK. Despite the turbulence of the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal, UK buyers continued to demand brand new cars, beating predictions to achieve a 6.3 per cent increase.

Last month was the busiest December ever recorded for new car registrations, with the market up by 4 per cent to 180,077 unit sales. 2,633,503 new car registrations were recorded overall in 2015, more than 1.3 million of which were fleet sales, representing the highest demand ever seen from business buyers, up by 11.8 per cent. By contrast the private sector saw growth of 2.5 per cent.

2015's statistics beat the second most successful year in new car trading, 2003, when 2,579,050 units were sold. Last year's figures mark the fourth time that new car sales have passed 2.5 million units in a year. All fuel types reported growth but it appears the VW diesel scandal may have made its mark. Petrol car sales closed the gap with diesels somewhat, up 8.4 per cent in 2015 compared to only 3 per cent for diesels. This saw petrol cars take a slightly larger market share than diesel, which had been ahead by 2.3 per cent the previous year.

AFVs blow the new car market apart

The biggest growth, however, was seen in the alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) sector, which saw sales grow by a staggering 40.3 per cent to take 2.8 per cent of the total market share. Most of this growth came from plug-in hybrids, which more than doubled in sales volumes. All electric cars reported sales increasing by about 50 per cent.

The SMMT attributes the bumper year to high levels of consumer confidence, low inflation and the continuing availability of generous finance packages, which have allowed buyers access to vehicles which are more efficient and technologically advanced than ever before. The SMMT predicts that growth will continue through 2016 but at a steadier rate.

The monthly best sellers list usually follows a fairly familiar formula but December saw a couple of interesting changes. While the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa took their customary first and second places, the third place last month went to Mini with 5,371 unit sales. It pushed the Ford Focus into fourth place, followed by the VW Golf in fifth. The Vauxhall Mokka continued a successful fourth quarter with sixth place in the December best sellers list, with the Vauxhall Astra in seventh, The BMW 3 Series took eighth place but the 1 Series made a rare appearance in the top ten as the ninth best-selling car of the month. This meant the Nissan Qashqai dropped to tenth place.

Ford Fiesta the best-selling new car of the year

Total sales figures for 2015 however don't show any surprises. The Ford Fiesta is way out in front with 133,434 unit sales for the year. The Vauxhall Corsa managed 92,077 units in its first year on sale, followed by the Ford Focus with 83,816.

The VW Golf was 2015's fourth best-selling model with 73,409 unit sales, while the country's best-selling SUV, the Nissan Qashqai, was fifth with 60,814.

Sixth place went to the Volkswagen Polo with sales of 54,900, then the Vauxhall Astra with 52,703; not bad for a run out model at the end of a long life span. The Audi A3 took eighth place with 47,653 unit sales and the Mini was ninth with 47,076. And the Vauxhall Mokka rounded off a very good year as the country's tenth best-selling model with 45,399 unit sales.

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