March 2017 was the biggest month yet for new car registrations; experts suggest that new VED charges could be the catalyst

Growth in the UK car market of 8.4% in March made last month the most successful month yet for new car registrations, which totalled 562,337.

The big month also pushed the year-to-date total to 820,016 registrations, making the first three months of 2017 the most successful quarter yet seen by the industry.

Diesel cars also experienced their best month yet, although petrol car registrations increased considerably, by 13.2% compared with March 2016. Alternatively fuelled vehicles – hybrids, electric cars and hydrogen electric cars – continued their climb, with the segment growing by 31% on last March.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “These record figures are undoubtedly boosted by consumers and businesses reacting to new VED changes, pulling forward purchases into March, especially those ultra-low-emissions vehicles that will no longer benefit from a zero-rate fee.”

The SMMT also pegged fleet and business sales as a large driver for the increase, with increases of 12.6% and 11.9% respectively. Jaguar Land Rover experienced a promising month, with one of the two companies' models being registered every 30 seconds in March; the two brands have grown in 2017 so far by 69.13% and 23.58% respectively; the best first quarter the manufacturer has experienced. Volkswagen experienced a 2% increase across the year-to-date compared with 2016, while Mercedes-Benz enjoyed an 18.01% upswing. Vauxhall's registrations shrank by 10.28% in the same period, while Honda endured an 11.45% downturn.

Hawes also predicted a slump in April as the new VED changes come into effect, as well as the fewer days of sales due to Easter. 

The biggest-selling car in the UK this year remains the Ford Fiesta (38,205 units so far), with the Focus and Vauxhall Corsa following some way behind, with 23,886 and 21,305 registrations respectively.

Mini posted 10,003 registrations in March, pushing the Nissan Juke down to 10th and the Audi A3 out of the top 10. 

Read more: 

New car sales in the UK drop in February

Top 10 best-selling cars in Britain

The winners and losers in 2016's UK car market

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

Join the debate


5 April 2017
"March 2017 was the biggest month ever for new car registrations; experts suggest that new VED charges could be the catalyst" That's blindingly obvious, don't need to be an expert to see that.


5 April 2017
The biggest story this week is Tesla's market cap exceeding Ford's....not a word.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Latest M5 super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to the improvement of every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors.
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim
  • Nissan Leaf Tekna
    The is the new Nissan Leaf
    First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new version of the world's best-selling electric car gains a bigger battery and more power. How does it compare to rivals such as the Volkswagen e-Golf?
  • Range Rover p400e
    First Drive
    20 March 2018
    The original luxury SUV is now available as a plug-in hybrid, promising lower emissions and the capacity for silent electric motoring