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Private buyers drive market but diesel sales slip.

UK new car sales hit a 12-year high in January, with alternative-fuelled cars powering the growth.

According to the latest figures released by the , 174,564 new cars were registered in the month – 2.9 per cent up on January 2016 and highest total recorded since 2005.

The most significant growth was in the alternative-fuel market, which includes electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. A total of 7,279 such vehicles were registered, 19.9 per cent more than in January 2016 and taking the sector’s market share to more than four per cent for the first time. Previously AFVs have never exceeded 3.6 per cent of the market.

Diesel decline

Suggesting that a backlash against diesel may be growing, diesel car registrations slipped by 4.3 per cent to 78,773, while petrol vehicles jumped 8.9 per cent to 88,507. Current speculation suggests that the Government could be planning a diesel scrappage scheme, possibly within months, to take older diesel models off the road.

There is also evidence of growing confidence amongst consumers, with private registrations leading the market, up by five per cent and accounting for 76,729 cars. However this could also be due to buyers trying to secure models before a new, more expensive road tax regime begins on 1st April (see our story here).

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes describes the results as a good start to 2017 in the new car market, which he says has been buoyed by a great range of new models which are safer and cleaner than ever before.January new car sales

“It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share,” Hawes adds, while warning that such growth is likely in coming months.

“After record growth in 2016, some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges,” Hawes says.

The Ford Fiesta started 2017 where it finished 2016, dominating the new car top 10 – the 8,495 registrations of Fiestas were 3,040 ahead of nearest challenger the Volkswagen Golf.

Winners and losers in the 2016 new car sales race

Jan 17 best sellers

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Executivecondominium. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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