The United Kingdom's new car market continues its remarkable streak of growth, marking its 20th consecutive month of expansion in March 2024. According to the latest figures released by the SMMT, registrations surged by 10.4 per cent last month. Again, this surge was primarily driven by fleet investment, which saw a substantial 29.6 per cent increase, while private buyer registrations experienced a slight decline of 7.7 per cent.

March, traditionally the busiest month for car sales due to the introduction of new number plates, saw a total of 317,786 new cars hitting the roads bearing the '24 plate'. This marks the most impressive March performance since 2019, although it still lags behind pre-pandemic levels by 30.6 per cent.

UK new car sales, March 2024

The Nissan Qashqai took the crown for March with 8,931 registrations, leaving behind the Ford Puma – Britain’s best-selling model since the beginning of the year – and the Kia Sportage. The Nissan Juke and Audi A3 came fourth and fifth, respectively.

UK’s best-selling models in March 2024:

1. Nissan Qashqai - 8,931

2. Ford Puma - 8,318

3. Kia Sportage - 7,445

4. Nissan Juke - 7,346

5. Audi A3 - 6,010

6. Vauxhall Corsa - 5,952

7. Mercedes-Benz A-Class - 5,892

8. Volkswagen Golf - 5,631

9. Tesla Model Y - 5,602

10. MG HS - 5,460

Petrol cars maintained their dominance in the market, representing 55.7 per cent of all registrations, with a year-on-year increase of 9.2 per cent. Meanwhile, diesel vehicles experienced a slight decrease, accounting for just 7.3 per cent of demand after a 2.7 per cent drop in registrations. Notably, there was a significant uptick in the uptake of hybrid vehicles, reaching record levels with a 19.6 per cent increase, constituting 14.0 per cent of the market. Plug-in hybrids, meanwhile, also showed impressive growth, surging by over a third to represent 7.7 per cent of all new registrations.

UK new car sales, March 2024

UK’s best-selling models year-to-date

1. Ford Puma - 15,054

2. Nissan Qashqai - 14,555

3. Kia Sportage - 13,632

4. Nissan Juke - 11,206

5. Audi A3 - 10,493

6. BMW 1 Series - 10,406

7. Volkswagen Golf - 10,290

8. Mini - 10,049

9. MG HS - 10,028

10. Volkswagen T-Roc - 8,934

However, the most remarkable observation was the slight decrease in market share for battery electric vehicles, despite recording their highest-ever registration volumes. EVs saw a modest 3.8 per cent rise in registrations, but their market share dropped by one percentage point compared to the previous year, now standing at 15.2 per cent. Large fleets continue to lead the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, buoyed by attractive tax incentives. Yet, despite the overall increase in registrations, BEVs face a declining market share, posing a significant challenge amid economic uncertainties.

"Market growth continues, fuelled by fleets investing after two tough years of constrained supply. A sluggish private market and shrinking EV market share, however, show the challenge ahead. Manufacturers are providing compelling offers, but they can’t single-handedly fund the transition indefinitely. Government support for private consumers – not just business and fleets – would send a positive message and deliver a faster, fairer transition on time and on target," commented Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.