Wednesday 16th Mar 2016
It’s been a peculiar year for the United Kingdom’s relations with Europe.
First, the public voted for us to leave the European Union. Then the largest home nation, England, conspired to exit the Euros at the hands of Iceland, whilst the second-smallest, Wales, made it all the way to the semi-finals.
But one thing has remained constant throughout it all: the UK’s ability to sell cars. The below graph shows how the number of new car registrations has grown from year-to-year since 2008. Back during the economic downturn, when people weren’t buying, the numbers shrank. But since 2012 it’s been up, up and up. 5.4 per cent more cars were registered that year than in the previous one, rising to 10.7 per cent in 2013 and 9.7 per cent in 2014.
Even last year, the marketplace for cars was still expanding quickly, albeit a little less quickly than in previous years. There were 6.7 per cent more cars registered in 2015 than in 2014. This actually meant that there were more cars registered than ever before.
How does that compare with Europe?
We’ve included another line on the graph to show the average growth in car registrations across the European Union. For three of the last four years, the UK has outperformed that average. In 2015, we finally slipped below it, although not by much. 9.3 per cent more cars were registered across the EU that year than in the previous year.
Last year, however, the EU’s average was pushed up by some extreme levels of growth in countries such as Ireland (31.1 per cent), Portugal (25.0 per cent) and Spain (24.1 per cent). When it comes to the continent’s larger economies, the UK is still one of the top players. Against our own growth of 6.7 per cent, France achieved 6.8 per cent and Germany 5.6 per cent.
What about outside of the European Union?
We’ve also included a line on the graph for the G7 bloc of nations, which includes ourselves, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. As a whole, it could only manage growth of 1.6 per cent last year – in part because the number of car registrations in the US actually declined by 2.4 per cent.
And what about 2016?
Obviously, we don’t have figures for the complete year yet, but the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders does provide them for each month – and the situation is encouraging. More new cars have been registered in the UK in each month of this year, so far, than in each corresponding month of last year. The marketplace keeps on growing.