New car registrations in UK reach ten-year high

  • Highest number of new cars registered in a year since 2004
  • Numbers return to pre-recession levels
  • Plug-in vehicle volumes quadruple, Ford Fiesta out-sells all

New car registrations in the UK reached a ten year high in 2014, returning to pre-recession levels, according to figures released today.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in total 2,476,435 new cars were registered in the UK last year – the highest figure since 2004 – and the fourth-largest of all time, behind 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "UK new car registrations returned to pre-recession levels in 2014, as pent-up demand from the recession years combined with confidence in the economy saw consumer demand for the latest models grow consistently and strongly.”

Plug-in market quadruples

One of the strongest areas for growth was the plug-in car market, which saw volumes quadruple from 3,586 in 2013 to 14,498 in 2014.

Data by SMMT

Data by SMMT

Mr Hawes added: “The year was particularly strong for alternatively-fuelled vehicles as increased choice, coupled with a growing desire for reduced costs and greater efficiency, resulted in a quadrupling of plug-in car registrations over 2013.

“With a variety of new plug-in models expected in 2015, this area of the market will continue to grow significantly. For the market as a whole, we expect a more stable 2015 as demand levels off.”

Some of our favourite plug-ins include the Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI e-tronMercedes S-Class S500 Plug-in Hybrid and BMW i8.

The overall car market grew by 9.3 percent over the previous year, ahead of the EU average of 5.7 percent. The UK is the second largest market in EU behind Germany.

Every month in 2014 saw an increase, and December was the 34th consecutive month of growth.

Big winners and losers

As ever, the lower-volume manufacturers saw the biggest percentage changes. MG Motor enjoyed a rise of 361.5 percent over 2013's figures, while Maserati saw a 274.9 percent increase in new UK registrations, according to the SMMT.

On the other side of the equation, new Chevrolet registrations in the UK dropped by 76.4 in 2014 ahead of the firm's departure from the European market later this year.

The 10 best-selling cars of 2014

Car Units sold
1. Ford Fiesta 131,254
2. Ford Focus 85,140
3. Vauxhall Corsa 81,783
4. VW Golf 73,880
5. Vauxhall Astra 59,689
6. Nissan Qashqai      49,909
7. VW Polo 48,004
8. Audi A3 45,581
9. Fiat 500 44,005
10. Nissan Juke 39,263