The UK's automotive industry witnessed a remarkable surge in February, marking its strongest performance for the month in two decades, according to the latest data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). New car registrations soared by 14.0 per cent to reach a total of 84,886 units, marking the 19th consecutive month of expansion. This impressive upturn has been primarily propelled by increased investment from fleet operators, who have been driving demand for the new cars.

Fleet registrations spearheaded the growth trajectory with a notable surge of 25.2 per cent, while businesses also contributed significantly with a 15.5 per cent increase. However, the private sector continued to face challenges, witnessing a modest decline of 2.6 per cent and recording a 33.7 per cent market share. This disparity is often attributed to the traditional volatility of February, being the lowest volume month of the year, as buyers often defer purchases to March with the arrival of the new number plate.

UK new car registrations, February 2024

The Ford Puma, which was recently refreshed, was again Britain's best-selling model in February with 2,535 cars delivered to customers, followed by the Volkswagen Golf (2,203 units) and Volkswagen T-Roc (1,986). The Kia Sportage, currently the country's second best-selling model since the start of the year, came fourth with 1,948 sales and the Audi A3 was fifth with 1,835 sales.

UK’s best-selling models in February 2024:

1. Ford Puma – 2,535
2. Volkswagen Golf – 2,203
3. Volkswagen T-Roc – 1,986
4. Kia Sportage – 1,948
5. Audi A3 – 1,835
6. Mini – 1,828
7. BMW 1 Series – 1,815
8. Tesla Model Y – 1,777
9. Nissan Qashqai – 1,616
10. Vauxhall Mokka – 1,513

The spotlight on electrified vehicles remained prominent, with hybrids registering a robust growth of 12.1 per cent, although experiencing a marginal decrease in market share compared to the previous year. Plug-in hybrids witnessed the most significant proportional surge, escalating by 29.1 per cent and capturing 7.2 per cent of the market. Battery electric vehicles showcased a commendable uptick of 21.8 per cent, constituting 17.7 per cent of total registrations.

UK new car registrations, February 2024

UK’s best-selling models year-to-date

1. Ford Puma – 6,736
2. Kia Sportage – 6,187
3. Nissan Qashqai – 5,624
4. BMW 1 Series – 5,019
5. Mini – 4,907
6. Volkswagen Golf – 4,659
7. MG HS – 4,568
8. Audi A3 – 4,483
9. Volkswagen T-Roc – 4,152
10. Nissan Juke – 3,860

“The new car market’s ability to deliver growth continues with its best February for 20 years and this week’s Budget is an opportunity to ensure that growth is greener. Tackling the triple tax barrier as the market embarks on its busiest month of the year would boost EV demand, cutting carbon emissions and energising the economy. It will deliver a faster and fairer zero-emission transition, putting Britain’s EV ambition back in the fast lane,” Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, comments.