All-time high for UK car sales last year image

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the British auto market rose 6.3 percent last year, but car sales are predicted to stay flat in 2016.

UK new car registrations for 2015 beat 2.6 million units for the first time, sealing four years of consecutive growth in Europe’s second-biggest car market after Germany, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement. The market has posted increases in all but one in the past 46 months, with the biggest December ever, when 180,077 new cars registered. Overall, the market rose 6.3 percent in 2015 to 2,633,503 units, exceeding forecast and outperforming the last record year in 2003 when 2,579,050 new cars left the UK’s showrooms. This is only the fourth time that the market has surpassed 2.5 million vehicles in a full year.

Gains were reported across all fuel types, with petrol and diesel registrations up 8.4 percent and 3 percent respectively, with equal market shares. Alternatively-fueled vehicle demand, meanwhile, grew 40.3 percent, securing the biggest ever market share of 2.8% for a year. Plug-in hybrids experienced an even bigger growth, with volumes more than doubling, while pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50 percent.

However, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive said 2016 was unlikely to record further growth. “The outlook remains positive with every reason to expect the market to hold broadly steady in 2016,” he said. John Leech, UK head of automotive at auditor KPMG, said sales were now likely to plateau after the surge in the last few years after surpassing pre-crisis levels. “My forecast is that new car sales will slip back 1 per cent in 2016, with the first half of the year stronger than the second half,” he stated.