Ford Fiesta 2015New car registrations grew by more than 5% in March 2016 – making it the biggest-ever month since the bi-annual registration change system was introduced back in 1999.

With 518,707 new cars registered, the market for the new 16-plate registration topped the half-million mark for only the third time ever.

Once again, it was the Ford Fiesta that led the way, with more than 23,000 new models registered. The Vauxhall Corsa was second and the Ford Focus was third.

The March registrations figures topped off a great first quarter for the UK car industry: this too set a new record with more than 770,000 new cars registered. That’s also a rise of more than 5% on 2015 levels.

Business user growth outpaced retail growth though: the business sector was up 15.3% and fleet registrations were up 6.0%, compared to 3.8% growth in private car registrations.

Registrations of alternative fuel vehicles continued to outpace the market, with growth of 21.5% – compared to growth of 4.8% and 4.7% for diesel and petrol cars.

This latter point also suggests any anti-diesel sentiment is not being reflected on the showroom floor…

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The sector’s strong growth in March rounds off a robust first quarter as British consumers continue to demonstrate their appetite for new cars, especially ultra-low emission vehicles.

“This confidence should see registrations remain at a high but broadly stable level over the year, but could be undermined by political or economic uncertainty.”

This last point appears to be a veiled comment about the Brexit EU Referendum set to be held on 23 June: the SMMT has previously voiced its support for the ‘in’ campaign, stating that “remaining in the EU is best for our business”.

March 2016 best sellers top 10

  1. Ford Fiesta: 23,467
  2. Vauxhall Corsa: 17,368
  3. Ford Focus: 14,002
  4. Volkswagen Golf: 13,041
  5. Nissan Qashqai: 11,355
  6. Volkswagen Polo: 10,279
  7. Vauxhall Astra: 9,953
  8. MINI: 8,915
  9. Fiat 500: 8,304
  10. Audi A3: 8,200