Ford (2)

New car sales got off to a flying start to 2016 in January, recording the highest figure for the month in 11 years, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said new car sales rose 2.9% to 169,678 in January, the largest number of new cars sold in the first month of the year since 2005.

January provided more evidence that alternatively-fueled vehicles are becoming more popular. Sales were up by nearly a third to 6,075, with its market share growing steadily from 2.8% to 3.6%.

Private buyers were largely responsible for the growth of sales, rising more than 8%. Sales to business buyers were up 5%, but fleet buyers fell slightly by 1.1%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “January’s solid performance puts the new car sector in a good position to start the year. Providing consumer confidence remains strong, we expect a more stable 12 months ahead, broadly similar to 2015 which was, of course, a record year.”

Richard Jones, managing director at Black Horse - part of Lloyds Banking Group - said: The ongoing increase is down largely to sustained low interest rates, further growth in PCP financing, and continued high levels of manufacturer subsidisation, driving up the volume of affordable new cars coming into the market.

"I believe 2016 will face more challenges than 2015 as global uncertainties influence into the UK more, however it is good to see the motor market showing resilience in January.”