Record March Car Registrations on the New 17 Plate

March saw the Market rise 8.4% making the biggest ever month for the industry with 562,337 new cars registered on the new 17 Plate.

  • Registrations are up 6.2% for the first 3 month of 2017 to 820,016 units
  • UK drivers get orders in to avoid new VED charges from 1 April 2017
  • There were diesel cars registered in March than any other month

The new car market in the UK rose by 8.4% in March, turning it into biggest month ever since records started. This new record figure came as buyers opted to buy cars before the new vehicle excise duty (VED) rates came into force ion the 1st April. Under the new rules all new cars, except for those with zero emissions, are subject to an annual flat rate of £140.

registrations bar chart

A massive 562,337 new cars were sold in March and this was more than double the number sold in the 1st two months of the year together. A total of 820,016 new cars were registered in the first quarter of 2017, a rise of 6.2% over the same period last year and setting a new record for the quarter.

In a recent trend consumers are looking to invest in vehicles that have the latest low-emission technology. March alone saw a 31.0% rise in registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV’s). Petrol cars experienced a big lift too, with a rise of 13.2%, while diesels also increased compared to 2016, with close to 250,000 UK buyers choosing them – the most ever in a single month since records began.

The Fleet side of sales was a big contributor to market rise in March, with new vehicle registrations up 12.6% Demand from private customers grew too, with registrations rising 4.4% to counter the slight decline seen in February.

The Ford Focus made a comeback to finish 2nd in the list of best-selling cars for March, while the Fiesta again took the top spot as expected. Other top performers were the Vauxhall Corsa, Nissan Qashqai and the Vauxhall Astra finishing in 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively. As we look further down the list you see that Mercedes managed to sneak the new C class into 10th place just behind the Ford Kuga in 9th. VW occupied 6th and 7th with the Golf and Polo, while Mini has a strong showing on the new 17 Plate with an 8th place finish. 

March Best sellers

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

“These record figures are undoubtedly boosted by consumers and businesses reacting to new VED changes, pulling forward purchases into March, especially those ultra-low emission vehicles that will no longer benefit from a zero-rate fee. This bumper performance probably means we will see a slowdown in April, exacerbated by the fact there are fewer selling days this year given Easter timing. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we still expect the market to cool only slightly given broader political uncertainties as there are still attractive deals on offer.”