UK new car sales reached their highest level for more than a decade in January, with 174,564 new cars registered in the first four weeks of 2017.
That’s the biggest number of sales recorded in Britain since 2005, and represents a year-on-year growth of 2.9%.
It has been spurred on by a significant increase in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles, with 7279 sales accounting for 4.2% of demand overall and representing a 19.9% increase on January 2016.
Conversely, diesel cars saw a 4.3% drop in sales compared to the year before, but petrol rose by 8.9% - representing 50.7% of sales with 88,507 models sold across the month.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes acknowledged the importance of alternatively fuelled cars in ensuring the UK market stayed strong. He said: “It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share.
“After record growth in 2016, some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges.”
The Ford Fiesta remained Britain’s most bought car, with 8495 sales ensuring it easily beat the Volkswagen Golf, which sold in 5455 units to finish second. The Ford Focus was third best, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class ranked fourth.
In terms of market spread, private purchases were up by 5% and represented 44% of all sales. Fleet saw a small increase by 1.4%, but business sales dropped by 1%, representing just 4% of the total market.
The month as a whole continued a steady trend of growth in overall January car sales that’s been in place since 2011. The highest levels ever reached in the month were in 2002, when more than 200,000 cars were sold.