March car sales in Wales were 19,885, just 2.1% up on 12-months earlier and the lowest increase in Britain, said the SMMT.
With a new plate being introduced, March is traditionally the highest month for registrations and across the UK and they were 8.4% up nationally to 562,337, the highest on record.
The jump was largely due to the rise in VED rates from 1 April which will affect every vehicle not zero emissions rated but there are also thought to be a big chunk of pre-registered cars by dealers who want to beat the VED changes and then offer the cars at reduced prices over the next few months.
Within the national figures, petrol and AFV models went up and diesel drivers who wanted to beat the deadline also lifted registrations to save substantial amounts of money.
The SMMT now expects sales to markedly slow in April and remain cool this summer while buyers make the most of any deals they can negotiate.
|Simon Benson, Director of motoring services at used car website AA Cars, added, “Fleets – hit hardest by April’s tax changes – fuelled the sector’s growth last month as the biggest contributor to new car registrations, driving it up by a significant 12.6%
“Meanwhile sales of alternative fuel vehicles, including some models which as of this month will no longer benefit from a zero-rate fee, grew by almost a third (31%) last month.
“This reflects recent AA Cars research, which shows that purchasing intentions for electric and hybrid vehicles has doubled over the last two years.
“Of course, the repercussions of this rush could mean that the new car market will see a considerable slowdown in the coming months – which could prove to be a boon for used car dealers.”
|Best UK sellers in March|
There are implications for the used car trade, looking ahead, said Glass’s director of valuations, Rupert Pontin.
He said, “The 8.4% boost over last year’s figure shows all fuel types to be on the increase, but the petrol car uplift of 13.2% is significant. With diesel registrations up just 1.6%, albeit to a record-breaking single month volume, the market does appear to be seeing a move away from this fuel type amidst speculation of both increased personal taxation and city centre charging.
“It will be fascinating to look at the real world retail advertising data in the coming weeks to see how many of these were true registrations and how many were tactical pre-registered units that will bounce straight to the used market.”
The year-to-date increase in registrations of 6.2% over 2016 is impressive but unlikely to be sustainable as manufacturers shift production focus to more profitable European countries.
Glass’s still predict that the year will finish a more sensible 3.5% lower than 2016. However, when all is said and done, the UK car market remains buoyant with strong consumer demand for both new and used cars – which is really good news, he added.
The electric vehicle market is booming.
Approximately 25 new electric vehicle models are likely to be launched later this year.
The availability of incentives and subsidies in the market, significant investment by original equipment manufacturers, new entrants, and lower battery prices are factors propelling double-digit growth.
However, the lack of standardisation in charging technology, absence of a fixed business model, and short-distance range of EVs still need to be addressed, said Frost & Sullivan Mobility Industry Manager Prajyot Sathe.