And despite the buzz around electric cars and the ever-growing popularity of SUVs the humble Ford Fiesta hatchback is still the nation’s favourite car.
The Government’s Vehicle Licensing Statistics report reveals there are now 30.5m cars registered in the country, up 2.3 per cent on the same period last year.
And nearly one million new vehicles were registered between January and March this year, pushing the total number of cars, motorbikes, buses and lorries up by 5 per cent to 36.7m. The 916,000 new registrations are the highest since the report began in 2001 and the first time they have broken the 900,000 barrier. Year-on-year new registrations have been growing steadily since 2011 and in 2015 2.66m new cars were registered in the UK.
In the North West new registrations rose from 239,500 in 2014 to 248,300 last year.
The statistics show that efforts to encourage more people into low-emissions vehicles are beginning to work. Ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) are classed as vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km and cover hybrids such as Toyota’s Prius, the plug-in Mitusubishi Outlander PHEV and all-electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S.
From January to March 11,750 ULEVs were registered in the UK. While only representing 1 per cent of all new registrations, this is a 31 per cent growth on last year and a massive 508 per cent rise on 2014.
Perhaps reflecting the impact of the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” scandal and increasingly efficient petrol engines, the registration of diesel cars fell by 1.7 per cent as petrol and electric registrations rose.
But while the increase in ULEVs is bringing some new models, such as the Mercedes C350e, to the scene the most popular cars across the UK are familiar names.
The Ford Fiesta continues to dominate UK sales, with 131,400 new models registered in 2015, streets ahead of the second-place Vauxhall Corsa’s 90,500. Ford’s Focus (82,300), the veritable VW Golf (75,200) and Nissan’s Qashqai (59,700) rounded out the top five.
Overall, Ford has a commanding position across the UK, accounting for 320,000 new vehicle registrations last year, ahead of other well-established brands including Vauxhall (265,000), Volkswagen (210,400). Audi (157,000) and BMW (146,400).
In the North West registrations reflected the national trend, with 35,300 registrations pushing Ford ahead of Vauxhall and VW.
Overall, five makes - Ford, Vauxhall, VW, Mercedes and Audi - accounted for 40 per cent of all new registrations last year.