The market has continued to grow this year, but it’s too early to see if the referendum result has had an impact

The UK's new car market has recorded its strongest ever half-year performance this year, and has grown by 3.2% compared with 2015.

There have been 1,420,636 new car registrations so far in 2016 - a new record - but demand in June has eased by 0.8%, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It says the fall is a predicted sign of the market stabilising after record sales in 2015.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles now account for 3.2% of the entire new car market, and had a 21.3% sales increase compared with the first six months of last year. Meanwhile, diesel and petrol engined car sales grew by 2.3% and 3.0% respectively. Fleet registrations rose by 4.5%, compensating for a 4.5% drop in private registrations.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, believes it is too soon to know if the EU referendum result has had an impact on the new car market.

He said: "The first six months saw strong demand at record levels but the market undoubtedly cooled over the second quarter.

“It’s important that the Government takes every measure to restore business and economic confidence to avoid the market contracting in the coming months.”

The Ford Fiesta continues to be the best-selling new car in the UK, selling 68,833 units, with the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus complete the top three, selling 42,356 and 38,715 respectively.

Thatcham Research, which researches car safety for the car insurance industry, says eight of the top 10 best-selling cars have five-star Euro NCAP safety ratings, but Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is only available on half of them.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the 10th most popular new car in the UK, selling 22,069 units this year, and is the only car in the top 10 to offer AEB as standard on every model in its range. Thatcham has called on manufacturers to make AEB standard by 2022.

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


6 July 2016
This record is going to stand for a while. The economy is not so much slowing as crashing, and if the £ stays low for the next few months then new car prices will rise.

6 July 2016
I do wish we were given more detail to these figures.
Like, for example, what is the breakdown among "Alternative fuel vehicles"? I suspect that the overwhelming majority of these are hybrids (of the non plug in variety), which are really just petrol or diesel fuelled with an electric energy recovery system. I'm not knocking such vehicles, but surely it is wrong to describe them as alternative fuel?

6 July 2016
I've been saying the same for some time. Basically the SMMT charge you to see the full sales figures despite the fact they're government stats and paid for by the public! FOI request anyone?

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

6 July 2016
Interesting to see whether post-Brexit people are still buying cars, maybe cheaper ones, or not buying at all. Better to give the public the total GBP transaction rather than the number of cars sold.

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