posted 9 months ago

UK New Car Market Hits Record High In 2016

Most popular cars of 2016 revealed, plus a breakdown of new registrations by fuel type and sector.

New car registrations 2016 and 2015

New car registrations hit a record high in 2016 for the United Kingdom, The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders confirmed. From January to December, 2,692,786 found homes which was 2.3% higher than the record set in 2015 (2,633,503). Such figures rose for the fifth consecutive year and were “in line with expectation”. 

Registrations by fuel type and sector

The market grew for cars of all fuel types. Diesel registrations rose from 1,276,871 in 2015 to 1,285,160 (+0.6%), Petrol registrations, in contrast, increased from 1,283,857 to 1,318,707 (+2.7%). The greatest growth was for alternatively fuelled models such as plug-ins. Registrations rose from 72,775 to 88,919 (+22.2).

Registrations were split between the fleet, private and business sectors. In 2016, fleet numbers rose to 1,380,750 compared to 1,317,570 in 2015 (+4.8%). Private registrations, in contrast, fell to 1,206,250 rather than 1,208,812 the previous year (-0.2%). Business registrations hit 105,786 compared to 107,121 in 2015 (-1.2%).

Most popular cars

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders further revealed the makes and models that proved most popular in 2016. Most were supermini or small family class vehicles. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was the only executive vehicle in the top 10. Note the table below.

POSITIONMAKE AND MODELRegistrations In 2016
1Ford Fiesta120,525
2Vauxhall Corsa77,110
3Ford Focus70,545
4Volkswagen Golf69,492
5Nissan Qashqai62,682
6Vauxhall Astra60,719
7Volkswagen Polo54,448
8MINI48,323
9Mercedes-Benz C-Class44,184
10Audi A343,808


Society summarises state of motor industry

Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Despite 2016’s political and economic uncertainties, the UK’s new car market delivered another record performance as car makers offered an incredible range of innovative and high tech models.”

He continued: “2017 may well be more challenging as sterling depreciation raises the price of imported goods, but - with interest rates still at historic lows and a range of new models arriving in 2017 - there are still many reasons for consumers to consider a new car in 2017.”

“Looking longer term, the strength of this market will rest on our ability to maintain our current trading relations and, in particular, avoid tariff barriers which could add significantly to the cost of a new car",  Mr Hawes concluded.

About UK motor industry

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders emphasised the importance of the motor industry to the UK. It directly employs 169,000 people via manufacturing and 814,000 elsewhere. It accounts for 12% of goods exports, invests £2.5 billion a year in research and development and 30+ manufacturers build in excess of 70 models.