With the current political agenda centred on whether or not the UK is experiencing any growth, one statistic in particular is capturing the attention of the media is the fact that new car sales rose 17.7% in March 2014, meaning that the UK has the fastest growing registration of new cars in Europe. 464,824 vehicles were sold in March, which is typically the busiest time of year for new car sales; 688,122 new cars have been sold so far this year.
There are plenty of reasons for this growth – some superficial, other less so. Consumer spending is rising and this is reflected in new car sales, but one point that seems far more pressing is the fact that the UK’s new car market is subject to all sorts of interesting new finance schemes. If you buy a new car these days, you’re often given the chance to pay a monthly rate for three years before trading in your car for a new model. To some degree you’re effectively leasing the car, but there’s always the option to buy.
Anyone who has bought a new car recently will probably be looking at it in terms of monthly payments, rather than the overall price on the ticket or the cars residual value – just like they would a mobile phone contract or a gym bill. It seems that personal contract purchases are now part of the fabric of everyday life, and the fact that the new car market in the UK is the first to jump on this wagon could either be seen as a good or a bad thing.
The UK car market is also surrounded by plenty of cheap credit which is encouraging people into the market and now they can feel the ‘green shoots of recovery’. Contract-type schemes are less prevalent in Europe where car sales have floundered over the last 6-10 years. Car sales in the EU region fell by 2.7% in 2013.
This is good news for used car sites such as CarShop, and the second hand car market as a whole. The stock of used cars will rise with the purchase of new ones, and there’s set to be some superb bargains. Cars like the Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii, Ford Ka, Toyota Aygo and the Peugeot 107 reflect a new, more economical attitude to driving and many of these marks will now be flooding onto the second hand market as people upgrade or renew.
It’s also worth noting that sales of cars which run on alternative fuels rose by 63.8% to a significant 8,713. This figure might not be enough to show that the UK has turned the corner in terms of green energy, but it certainly illustrates that the hybrid car is a credible alternative.