Motor industry gears-up for year’s biggest registration month

28 February 2012 #SMMT News
  • Motorists will spend £5 billion on new cars in March, generating over £1 billion for UK economy.
  • 12-plate registrations expected to top 350,000 new cars in March.
  • March set to be biggest month of the year for UK automotive industry.

New ’12-plate’ vehicles will go on sale this week as the automotive industry gears-up for its busiest month of the year. Industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) expects around 350,000 new cars to be registered during March, with motorists spending in the region of £5 billion on the latest new vehicles.

March is the biggest month for dealers across the UK and accounts for almost a fifth of the year’s trade with the other plate-change month of September, traditionally the second busiest. More than 300 technology-packed models are currently on the market, representing one of the biggest ever choices for UK motorists.

“The March market holds a great deal of significance for the UK’s franchised dealer network, motorists and the wider economy,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “More than 350,000 vehicles will be registered in the month with private motorists and business buyers capitalising on the ever increasing levels of fuel efficiency, safety, comfort and practicality of today’s vehicles.”

On the shopping list

Fuel efficiency – Average new car CO2 emissions are now 138g/km with official miles per gallon figures typically exceeding 50mpg.

Security – Theft of vehicles has fallen almost 70% over the past 10 years, while theft from vehicles has also dropped significantly, down over 50%.

Safety – 77% of new cars tested by Euro NCAP in 2011 achieved five stars and in the last 10 years road fatalities have fallen almost 50%.

Colour – Silver and blue coloured cars are expected to make-up the lion’s share of March registrations.

Size/type – Last year, the Supermini segment was most popular, accounting for 36.3% of the total market.

Alternative fuels – Market share of alternatively fuelled vehicles is growing steadily with more hybrid, pure electric and biofuel models available than ever before.

New technology – Digital radio is rapidly becoming the ‘must-have’ option for new car buyers. Over a fifth of new cars have digital radio fitted as standard, as consumers look ahead to the planned 2015 switchover.

Contribution to the economy – From the sale of new cars, VAT alone will see over £1 billion contributed to the UK economy in March.

The registration plate changed in 1999 from alphabetical to the twice-yearly March and September system that uses the year as an identifier. The new system uses two letters at the start of the plate to identify the region a vehicle is registered in, the following two digits refer to the year (ie in 2012 the March plate will be ’12’, in September it will be ’62’. The final three letters are randomly allocated to new car dealerships across the country.

Industry body, Motor Codes, operates a government-backed Code of Practice for new cars that covers over 99% of all new cars sold in the UK and regulates the advertising, sale, warranty, replacement parts availability and complaint handling processes for new cars.

SMMT is the country’s primary source of data on the motor industry and is uniquely placed to help members stay one step ahead of the competition in their business planning and forecasting.

The Motor Vehicle Registration Information System (MVRIS) is the most comprehensive and authoritative source of new registration details in the UK. The database is the result of co-operation between the SMMT, vehicle manufacturers / importers and the DVLA.

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