The number of new cars registered in the UK increased by 11 per cent last month compared to May 2012. It was the 15th successive month of growth for the domestic car market, and a total of 180,111 units were registered, bringing the year-to-date total to 948,666 units.
May’s figures were underpinned by a strong rise in demand for new vehicles among private buyers, although registrations in the fleet and business sectors also posted modest increases.
Private demand in May went up by 20.9 per cent year-on-year, taking that sector of the market to levels not seen since 2007, before the economic slump took hold. The overall market, including the fleet and business sectors, was three per cent behind May 2007.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which collates the monthly registration figures, the growth could be down to several factors, including: consumers returning to the new car market after delaying regular replacement cycles; motorists replacing vehicles bought under the Scrappage Incentive Scheme; motorists switching to more efficient vehicles in every class and attractive offers catching the attention of buyers with funds and access to finance.
A switch from used to new cars may also be occurring, as the recession-induced dip in new car sales which occurred a few years ago begins to have a knock-on effect on the supply of used cars.
The SMMT’s interim chief executive, Mike Baunton, was cautiously optimistic about the market’s prospects for the rest of the year: “While it is clear that buying confidence among UK motorists is very strong, continued economic uncertainty abroad, particularly in the rest of Europe, will mean that manufacturers remain cautious about performance in the second half of 2013."