'Buyers have demanded more cars wearing ‘made in Britain’ labels'

Mike Rutherford is proud to be British after looking at the official car sales figures from 2016

JLR opinion

If the official figures are to be believed, UK-based motorists played a blinder in 2016 by buying so many new cars that registrations for the year nudged 2.7 million – a record high. Corresponding numbers for factory-fresh vans and trucks were up, too. The same goes for used sales. All this, don’t forget, in one of the most tumultuous 12-month periods in British history.

This truly unprecedented demand for brand new, pre-registered and second-hand vehicles meant traditional dealerships (plus increasingly important non-traditional retail outlets) attracted more paying customers than ever in 2016. In turn, HM Treasury enjoyed easy profits – via sales and other vehicle-related taxes – like never before.

• 2016 a record year for UK new car registrations, but numbers predicted to fall in 2017

More than 200,000 engines were built every month, and while the official figures due later this month are expected to show 2016 wasn’t quite the best ever year for annual car production (1.9m vehicles in 1972 remains the target to beat), that 45-year-old record is set to be smashed in 2017 when around 2m cars should roll off UK production lines.

Buyers in mainland Europe and beyond have in recent months demanded more, not fewer, cars wearing ‘made in Britain’ labels. And that trend is likely to continue – largely thanks to our number one producer, Jaguar Land Rover, building a new range of cars that’s better than many (or most) German firms’.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, of every 100 new cars registered here last year, just three were alternatively fuelled vehicles. That’s worrying, because the mix of three per cent ‘alternative’ and 97 per cent ‘conventional’ in 2016 is a repeat of 2015 – proving that AFVs remain comparatively unattractive to the motoring masses.

Best selling cars in 2016

Another bummer is that two legendary US brands finally threw in the towel last year when Chevrolet registered only four cars, while Chrysler did even worse with, er, none. Not one. Conversely, registrations for homegrown marques such as Bentley, JLR, McLaren and MG rocketed.

All this is enough to make the good people of Blighty feel proud to be British. And why not? We may be a small and somewhat isolated land. But we’re punching well above our weight – in our design studios, engine plants, car factories and increasingly busy showrooms.

And let’s give a special New Year thank you to the strike-free, salt of the earth British car workers, who are now ranked among the world’s best.

Do you prefer British marques? Let us know in the comments section below...

Recommended

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021
'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'
Opinion

'Citroen has changed the game and changed the lives of countless consumers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the quirky new Citroen Ami is a true game-changing car
13 Dec 2020
'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'
Opinion

'Power outages do nothing to inspire confidence in would-be EV buyers'

Mike Rutherford thinks the switch to an all-electric UK car market hasn't been thought through
29 Nov 2020

Most Popular

New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla
Ioniq 5 - front
Hyundai

New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla

The new Ioniq 5 – the first model from Hyundai’s all-electric sub-brand – takes design influence from the 45 Concept and will be offered with two batt…
23 Feb 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked
Volkswagen Golf GTI 'Edition 45' - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked

The Volkswagen Golf GTI will soon get a new special edition model to celebrate its Sapphire anniversary
23 Feb 2021
New 2021 Mercedes C-Class gets sporty image and S-Class tech
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New 2021 Mercedes C-Class gets sporty image and S-Class tech

The fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class features a range of petrol, diesel and plug-in powertrains, with high performance AMG models set to follow in 20…
23 Feb 2021