New car sales down by almost 16% in all-important March

9th April 2018

Ford’s Fiesta is the best-selling car for March and 2018 so far

Britain’s new car market retracted in March – one of the biggest months for new car sales – as registrations figures dropped by 15.7 per cent.

Some 474,068 new cars were registered in March, which marked a drop-off of more than 88,000 on the same month last year.

However, context shines a more favourable light on those figures. March 2017 was the strongest single month on record for new car sales so improving on 562,337 units was a very tall order.

Also, despite the 15.7 per cent retraction, last month was the fourth biggest March for new car sales.

Much of the decrease can be pinned on deflated demand for diesel cars, with registrations down by a third so far this year. However, petrol sales increased marginally in March (0.5 per cent) and currently sit 3.5 per cent ahead of where they were at this point last year.

New car registrations have fallen for the 12th consecutive month, with year-to-date performance down 12.4 per cent.

‘Not unexpected’

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which published the figures, didn’t seem overly concerned by the drop-off.

He commented: “March’s decline is not unexpected given the huge surge in registrations in the same month last year.

“Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive.”

Ford’s Fiesta [pictured] is the best-selling car for March and 2018 so far with last month accounting for 19,272 of the 32,808 units sold in the first quarter of the year.

The Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai followed in second and third respectively for March and the year-to-date.

Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “It feels like Britain’s new car market reached an insurmountable peak in 2017 and you’d have to be deluded to think car sales could continue to set new records every month indefinitely. We’re confident the market will recover soon.”

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