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Fleet leads new car market in May

Date: 04 June 2015   |   Author:

Ultra-low emission vehicles like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV have seen a four-fold increase in registrations

Fleet business drove new car registrations in May with volumes up 4.5% to 100,599 units.

The increase in fleet registrations last month maintains the continued growth seen so far this year, with company car volumes tracking at 11.8% higher to 528,732 units than between January and May last year.

The market overall increased by 2.4% in May to 198,706 units year-on-year, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The retail market increased slightly last month by 1.2% to 91,841 units.

The SMMT said the ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) market, cars with emissions below 75g/km, has seen a four-fold rise between January and May to 11,842 units compared to the same period last year.

There are now over 20 ULEVs available in the UK for fleet to choose from, compared to just six in 2011.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "The remarkable growth in demand for plug in vehicles is expected to continue as the range of ultra-low emission vehicles on sale increases.

"Meanwhile, we anticipate a natural levelling out of the overall new car market throughout the remainder of 2015."

The rise in overall new car registrations marks the 39th consecutive month of growth in the market.

The SMMT said that with many purchases on a three-year replacement cycle, new cars bought as the recession ended are now being replaced.

The Ford Fiesta once again took the top spot in May with 9349 units registered and 59,447 units year-to-date.

Industry reaction

"Forecourts continued to buzz in May despite it being a traditionally quieter month for dealerships. The underlying trend remains positive and, bar any unforeseen bumps in the road, I cannot see sales slowing dramatically in the month ahead," said Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays.

"May was another good month for new car sales, up 2.4% as the carmakers continue to support the market with cheap credit.  With rising consumer sentiment and a strong pound it looks likely that the market will continue to perform well over the summer.  It is still possible that UK new car sales will break the all-time record of 2.58 million cars sold in 2003," said John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG.