Sales of new cars rise to a record 2.6m


New car sales reached an all-time high last year, official data will reveal today.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) will announce that over 2.6 million cars were registered in the UK in 2015.

The organisation's chief executive, Mike Hawes, said high consumer confidence, wage growth and low interest finance deals have encouraged motorists to buy new cars.

He expects an increase of around 6% on the 2.48 million cars registered in 2014. The previous record was set in 2003 at 2.58 million.

This means car sales have exceeded their pre-recession levels after dipping below two million in both 2009 and 2011.

Mr Hawes said he expects sales in 2016 to be "comparatively stable".

Some 43 consecutive months of growth in year-on-year sales ended in October. But it was only a temporary dip with a 3.8% rise in November, while 8% growth in December is expected to be confirmed today.

Volkswagen car sales fell by 20% in November in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal. Sales of other VW brands were also down: Seat by 24%, Skoda by 11% and Audi by 4%.

But Mr Hawes said the brand had "a good December" in terms of registrations.

He added that the demand for diesel cars does not appear to have been significantly affected by the VW crisis.

"There has been a lot of comment and concern around air quality and diesel," he said.

"I think the fact that the market for diesel has held up demonstrates that, for a lot of consumers, they are still driven by fuel economy and diesel offers better fuel economy."

Meanwhile commercial vehicle sales will be up around 15%, which Mr Hawes said was a result of the surge in online shopping deliveries.

:: These are the annual new car registration figures for recent years:


2003 2,579,050

2004 2,567,269

2005 2,439,717

2006 2,344,864

2007 2,404,007

2008 2,131,795

2009 1,994,999

2010 2,030,846

2011 1,941,253

2012 2,044,609

2013 2,264,737

2014 2,476,435