January new car sales best since 2005 says SMMT

January’s new car sales were the best since 2005, with registrations increasing by almost three per cent on the same month in 2015.

That’s according to the new monthly sales figures just published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which said 181,474 new cars were registered last month. There was a year-on-year jump in demand for alternatively-fuelled cars of 32.1 per cent, with hybrid petrol vehicle sales increasing by 44.1 per cent and plug-in hybrid sales by 32.3 per cent. Demand for electric-only cars was up by 14.1 per cent.

The trend for more buyers to turn to electric and hybrid cars means that mechanics will need new skills when servicing and repairing these vehicles. It is also worth checking your motor trade insurance and road risks insurance to ensure you are properly covered to work on these vehicles.

The January figures follow a strong 2015 for new car sales and the industry is predicting that the positive start to the year will continue.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Providing consumer confidence remains strong, we expect a more stable 12 months ahead, broadly similar to 2015 which was, of course, a record year.”

James Hind, from Carwow, also forecast another year of growth for the industry and said the higher demand for hybrid and electric vehicles is worth watching over the next 12 months.

He told Car Dealer magazine: “With petrol hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars increasing in popularity, it seems that car buyers are taking a more environmentally-friendly approach to their purchasing decisions. This is a trend that I think will continue as the year progresses, particularly as people become more concerned about being ‘green’, or being seen to be ‘green’.”

He said that the availability of finance deals is pushing people towards new vehicles rather than nearly new and added that the used car market is “swiftly becoming a less tempting option for people”.