Car sales on the rise again

The UK new car market is showing signs of life, and the industry is looking forward to a further boost as showrooms prepare to reopen.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that new car registrations were up 11.5% in March compared with the same month last year, with click and collect providing a lifeline for the sector.

Plug-in vehicle demand reached its highest ever level: battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles took a combined market share of 13.9%, up from 7.3% a year ago as the number of models available to customers increased from 72 to 116.

A total of 283,964 new cars were registered in March 2021, up from 254,684 in March 2020 when Covid-19 brought the country to a standstill and registrations fell by 44.4%.

Compared with the March average of 450,189 in the past decade, registrations were down 36.9%.

“The past year has been the toughest in modern history and the automotive sector has, like many others, been hit hard,” commented Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “However, with showrooms opening in less than a week, there is optimism that consumer confidence – and hence the market – will return. We know we will see record breaking growth next month given April 2020 was a washout, but a strong, sustainable market is possible if customers respond to the choice and competitive offers the industry provides within the safest of showroom environments.”

Hawes added: “New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it.”

No substitute for age and experience, say car insurance companies

Car insurance companies now have only two criteria when it comes to offering their best premiums, age and experience.

With the ruling by the European Court of Justice that came into force on December 21 last year, women can no longer be offered discounted motor insurance premiums on the basis of their sex, despite the weight of statistical evidence tending to prove that on average they are less likely to make a claim than men. The net result of the sexual equality legislation is that women’s car insurance premiums have risen to come in line with men’s, and the only attributes that a driver can now brandish at their insurer in order to garner a healthy discount are a long, blemish-free driving history and the promise of a cautious and responsible nature, which is most likely to have come with age.

And the preferential treatment of older drivers is hardly surprising when looked at in terms of road accident statistics. In the UK only around 13 percent of driving licence holders are under the age of 25, and yet a third of drivers that are killed on the road come from that age group. Older motorists are only half as likely to have a crash as under 25’s, and when they are involved in accident, the cost is likely to be half of that incurred in a collision involving a younger driver.

Like any other prudent businesses, car insurance companies are looking to maximise their income and minimise their outgoings, and all of the indications are that leaning their client lists towards older and more experienced drivers will go a long way towards achieving that aim. This is good news for older drivers, particularly the over 50’s, as they have become THE target market for insurers, with many, like Staysure, offering considerable discounts to attract them into the fold.

The benefits of getting older are not always that obvious, but being the darling of car insurance companies is one to cling to.

Growth for UK car manufacturing in January

Car manufacturing in the UK grew by 1.2% in January but commercial vehicle production slumped, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said today.

A total of 129,049 cars rolled out of the factories in the first month of the year, and strong domestic demand meant that output of cars built for the UK market increased by 26.1% year-on-year.

Mike Baunton, interim chief executive of the SMMT, said that despite ongoing economic challenges, growing demand for UK-built products in emerging global markets, combined with major new investment, indicates that 2013 will be a strong year for automotive manufacturing.

According to the SMMT, independent analysts have suggested that UK car manufacturing could grow a third bigger by 2016, with output expanding to almost two million vehicles each year.

The future looks rather less bright for commercial vehicle makers, however.

Output in this sector, which includes a range of vehicles from light panel vans to heavy trucks, as well as buses, coaches and minibuses, fell by 20.5% to 7,822 units in January. A 3.2% rise in output for the domestic market did little to offset a reduction of 37.2% in the production of commercial vehicles for export. In a reversal of the situation in January 2011, more than half of the UK commercial vehicle output in January 2012 was for the home market.

The SMMT expects further decreases in output over the course of 2013 as Ford scales backs its manufacturing.

January also saw a decrease in UK engine production, which declined by 5.1% to 219,757 units. Manufacturers make some 2.5 million petrol and diesel engines in the UK each year, but last month exports declined by 9.5% year-on-year while production for the the home market was 2.8% higher than a year earlier.

Unique Senna F1 car up for auction

A truly unique piece of motorsport history, a Toleman TG184-2 Formula One car driven by Ayrton Senna in his debut F1 season, is up for auction at The Spring Sale to be hosted by Silverstone Auctions on 16th May.

This particular car has become the stuff of legends and is perhaps best known for Senna’s remarkable second place drive in the rain-soaked 1984 Monaco GP, arguably the race which first demonstrated his extraordinary talents to the world.

Nick Whale, managing director, Silverstone Auctions, said: “We are thrilled to bring this iconic race car to auction as it’s undoubtedly one of the most important lots we’ve ever offered under the hammer.

“Senna mania is reaching fever pitch and rightly so as he’s considered by many as the greatest F1 driver we’ve ever seen. It goes without saying that this will be one of the star attractions at the sale as it’s a very rare chance to own a much sought after piece of motorsport and Ayrton Senna history.”

Indeed, the Toleman, which Senna also raced to 3rd in the British and 7th in the Canadian Grand Prix’s, has been in private ownership for the past 16 years, so its sale at open market really is an opportunity not to be missed.

However, Silverstone Auctions is no stranger to success with Senna related lots. At its first auction of the year, a helmet and race suit used by the driver fetched £74,750 and £35,650, respectively, both considerably more than their pre-sale estimates.

And while the race car is undoubtedly one of the key lots at the forthcoming Spring Sale to be held at Silverstone, it will be joined by an impressive range of other race cars, modern sports cars, motorcycles and automobilia.

“Excitement is building for the auction which promises to be a must attend sale for any serious collector or motorsport enthusiast. Apart from the Senna F1 car, another notable early entry is a stunning 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7, estimated at between £190,000 to £210,000. If these are examples of what’s to follow, then it promises to be quite an event,” added Nick.

Those interested in submitting an entry into The Spring Sale, or any of Silverstone Auctions forthcoming events, are invited to call the team on 01926 691 141 or email

The decline of the family saloon

How ‘Fiesta Dad’ and ‘MPV Mum’ have changed Britain’s driveways since the 1980s.
The demise of the family saloon, once the bastion of Britain’s family cars, has been driven by the rise of small-car dad and MPV mum, according to research released today by the UK’s largest insurer Aviva.

In the 1980s the stereotypical two-car family had a large saloon, like a Ford Cortina or Vauxhall Cavalier, and a small ‘runaround’ second car such as a Fiesta or a Datsun Cherry on the driveway1. The women in the family almost always drove the smaller car.

Fast-forward to today and the shape and size of the cars on our driveways and who is driving them have changed significantly.

Aviva asked 2,500 UK adults about their family car history stretching back 30 years and found that, while more families than ever own a second car2, there has been a significant shift towards a more equal size and value split between the cars driven by mum and dad in Britain’s multi-car households.

The death of the saloon
High spec smaller family cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf, the Mini and the Peugeot 207, driven equally by men and women, now dominate the top 10 most popular cars, replacing traditional family saloons like the Vauxhall Vectra, Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo. The traditional family saloon no longer features anywhere in the top 10 list of most popular car models with UK drivers.
The rise of ‘Fiesta dad’ and ‘MPV mum’
As the size and shape of Britain’s family cars have changed so have the people driving them. In the 1980s, large saloons like the Ford Cortina and the Vauxhall Cavalier were popular with men but driven by very few women, who drove mainly small cars such as Fiestas, Minis, and the Sunny and Cherry made by Datsun/Nissan.

Since 2010 the big car/small car gender divide had changed completely. Two thirds of Fiesta drivers are now men. Women are increasingly opting for large, modern alternatives, and are more likely than men to drive big SUV and 4×4 hybrids such as the Citroen Picasso and the Toyota RAV4.

The evolution of the family car
In the 1980s Britain’s family cars looked very similar, with just four big and small car combinations dominating our driveways. Vauxhall and Ford were the most popular saloons of choice. The four pairings most commonly seen in streets across Britain were: the Vauxhall Cavalier/Mini Rover; the Vauxhall Cavalier/Ford Fiesta; the Ford Cortina/Mini Rover and the Ford Escort/Vauxhall Nova4.

In 2011 the picture is more complicated because of the huge rise in the number of different models available. Our driveways may have become more diverse but the type of car parked on them tells a common story. As motoring costs increase and with greater demand for fuel efficiency, families are increasingly opting for two small cars or a small car and an MPV hybrid. The most common car type combinations in 2011 were Small Family Cars (VW Golf, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra) with Mini/Compact cars (Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa) and SUVs/4x4s/MPV (Nissan Qashqai, Citreon Picasso, Ford Galaxy) with Mini/Compact cars (Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa)5.

Commenting on the research, Heather Smith, director of car insurance at Aviva, said: “Thirty years ago the big saloon and the small ‘runaround’ sitting side by side outside Britain’s family homes was a ubiquitous sight. Now you’re more likely to see two VW Golfs or newer SUV/4×4 hybrids like the Nissan Qashqai and the Suzuki Grand Vitara sharing driveway space.

“As families’ lives become more busy and complex, with two working parents and children to be dropped off at school, it appears multi-tasking mums need a vehicle fit for both work and family life while cost and fuel efficiency are increasingly important to dad”.

Thinking of getting a new car? January is the best time to buy one.

Didn’t get what you wanted this Christmas? Well according to car specialist, Glass’s Guide, January is the best time to buy a car.

Fresh stock and quiet periods means that January, offers plenty of opportunities to snap up bargain deals as dealers are more eager to sell.

Slow sales mean that there are bargains available, as car prices may be slashed. Allowing potential buyers to haggle dealers for a reduction in price.

However the search for a cheap car can also depend on the model you are after. Glass’s Guide states that January is the best month to get your hands on a convertible for the summer.

Demand for flashy topless models are low in the winter which means savings are at their highest.

But drivers wanting to bag a bargain on a4x4 will struggle to do so. Following three consecutive snowy winters, the demand is high for snow proof vehicles.

Tips to bag a cheap car in January 

–       Always offer around 10 per cent or £1,000 less than the cars valued price. For example: If a car for sale was £6,000 offer £5,000. This opens the space for negotiation, it can be daunting but don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Car dealers are use to this and after all you’re only look to bag the best deal.

–       You are being sold the car by a salesman, so don’t act too interested. This means the salesman will feel more inclines to offer you a discount to keep you interested.

–       Do your research. Look at a reputable car valuation service like Glass’s Guide, to see how much the car should be valued at, and look at the full-run down on the car’s rating and performance. That way you won’t end up with an overpriced dud.

–       Ask about added extras, there’s no harm in asking. Ask about items such as upgrades, a car warranty, and MOT or whatever else you can get thrown in.

–       Make sure you know which car you want and your budget. Don’t be persuaded by salespeople to spend more than you can afford – or if you don’t like the deal, walk away. Make sure you budget for additional items such as car insurance as this can affect your budget.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Insurers propose driving ban for under-25s

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has stated that drivers under the age of 25 should hold their license for two years before being able to drive between the hours of 11pm and 4am, however allowing certain exemptions such as work.


The ABI have also said in their proposed changes that young drivers shouldn’t drink any alcohol before taking to the wheel.


Added changes include a minimum learning period of a year before being able to take their driving test, and scrapping intensive driving courses.


The ABI believe these new changes will lower the amount of young drivers involved in serious injuries on the road and death from road accidents.


Drivers under the age of 25 are twice as likely to fail a breathalyser test and when driving late at night and early in the morning are more at risk.


Statistics show that one in four people killed or seriously injured in a road accident is a young driver or one of their passengers. However only 12 per cent of all driving license holders are under 25.


Nick Starling, ABI’s director of general insurance and health said: “Our proposals are not designed to drive young drivers off the road, but to ensure that they become safer drivers”.


“We must act to reduce the tragic loss of young lives on our roads”.


AA insurance have welcomes ABI plans to tackle the number of injuries and deaths on the roads, however disagree with a ban on night time driving or a zero-tolerance alcohol limit.


Simon Douglas, director of AA insurance said: “While we welcome the debate, the suggested night driving ban up to age 25 is just not practical”.


The AA instead said it would be better to reduce the drink-drive limit for everyone.


The insurance company have agreed with the ABI that telematic or ‘black box’ insurance can also help to place responsibility for driving within the law. Technology is used to measure driving performance including speed, braking and cornering.


In the New Year the AA is expected to launch telematics insurance, which will be aimed at new drivers.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Young Drivers Hit With £4,000 Average Car Insurance Cost

This is the first time since the Watson Car Insurance Price Index began in 2006 that average annual car insurance costs for young men have exceeded £4,000.

Bizarrely, young male drivers in this age bracket see their car insurance costs reduce by around £1,000 if the driver is married and adds their partner to the policy.

In order to afford a £4,000 a year premium and cover the cost of running a car, the average single male would need to spend £6,500 a year – almost half of the average salary of full-time employees at this age. This effectively prices them out of the market.

Gareth Kloet, Head of Car Insurance for commented: “For young male drivers it has never been more important to shop around for the best price. Our consumer research shows that 50% of under 25s could save up to £556 on car insurance* by using This is one way to help combat these rises.”

The news isn’t only bad for young drivers though. The average cost of a comprehensive car insurance policy across the UK stands at £858 (as of the end of June 2011), marking a year on year rise of £170.

Despite the huge increase in the last twelve months, prices are still continuing to rise. In Q2 of 2011, prices inflated by an average of 25% compared to Q2 2010.

Statistics from Quarter 2 of 2011 tell us that:
* The average cost of comprehensive cover in the UK is now £858, up £22 in the last 3 months and up £170 in the last 12 months.
* The annual rate of price inflation for comprehensive cover is now 25%.
* The average price of a comprehensive policy increased 2.7% across the UK in Q2, with drivers in Northern Ireland hit hardest with a 5.1% increase.

* The average price of a comprehensive car insurance policy rose by 2.7% in the second quarter of 2011, the fourth consecutive quarter in which price rises have been less than in the previous quarter.
* Third party, fire and theft (TPFT) cover increased the least in Q2 by just 1%, but the cost a TPFT policy is still up 33% in the last year.
* The biggest increases this quarter have been seen among the 29-33 year old age group.

Over 4 million quotes are used in the construction of each quarter’s insurance price index – this makes it the most comprehensive insurance index in the UK.

^Office for National Statistics, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2010; average wage of full-time employed 16-21 year olds is £14,833
*Based on online independent research, Consumer Intelligence (June ’11). 50% of consumers, aged 17 – 25, could achieve this saving.

Young drivers priced out of cars… and on to bikes

Young drivers are being increasingly priced off the roads as rising fuel and insurance costs put car ownership out of reach for many teenagers.

New figures from the Driving Standards Agency show that the number of 17-year-olds taking driving tests has fallen by more than 55,000 in the past three years.

And many people priced out of running a car are looking to motorcycling, with a 17 per cent increase in the number of people taking CBT (compulsory basic training) courses in the past year, according to industry group Get On.
Campaign director Miles Taylor said that “more and more people are looking at the cost of driving a car for a year and seeing they can save thousands of pounds by riding a motorcycle instead, particularly a 125cc model.”

“This sector of the market is currently almost 25 per cent up on last year, with scooters up 30 per cent.”

Taylor said that opting for a motorcycle should be a no-brainer for many who wanted to maintain their transport independence, particularly youngsters at university facing increased tuition fees and rental costs.

Get On provides free riding sessions to give potential motorcyclists a taste of life on two wheels, and Taylor said: “There is a strong interest in bookings from young people and we would encourage them to look at motorcycling as an affordable form of personal transport.”
In the past year, drivers have been hit by an average 40 per cent increase in car insurance premiums combined with record fuel costs, up an average of 15.43p a litre compared to a year ago.

Newly-qualified drivers can face premiums of up to £6000 a year.

Against this background, the number of 17-year-olds taking a driving test has fallen nearly 15 per cent from 384,571 in 2007/8 to 329,307 in the year ending March 2011, the steepest falls coming in the past two years.

In contrast, the number of people taking motorcycle tests increased from 68,792 to 105,362 in the decade up to March 2009.
Robert Balls, of specialist motorcycle broker Bikesure, said the days when youngsters could put themselves on mum and dad’s policy as an “occasional” driver were over, with insurers wising up to a practice known as fronting.
“People keen on getting their independence often used to ride a motorcycle for a few months before they passed their driving test and got their own car at the age of 17 or 18,” he added.

“But we are seeing more people sticking with their motorcycles, or even selling their cars and coming back to bikes.

“The premium for a 125cc motorcycle is often less than a quarter of that for a car, and when you add in lower fuel costs and cheaper road tax you can see the temptation of sticking with two wheels.

“For example, a 17-year-old can insure a 125cc bike for about £400, whereas a car might cost 10 times that, and for some teenagers that’s the only way they can afford their own transport, even if they have passed their driving test.”

Research by Get On shows a saving of over £4000 in the first year, and £3700 a year thereafter, for a new Honda CBR125R compared with a used Peugeot 306, based on a 19-year-old living in Birmingham.

“The Honda can do 158 miles per gallon, and even a BMW F650 can do 76mpg, while it costs £1000 on average just to learn to drive a car before you even think about insurance, but a CBT is, on average, just £125 and can be done in a day,” said Taylor.

“A lot of people whose incomes are being squeezed at the moment are clearly seeing the benefits.”

As for parents worried about the safety of two wheels, Taylor said: “Motorcycles are also a lot safer than they used to be, with features like ABS on many bikes, traction control on some and new modern tyres accident rates as a proportion of riders are coming down.
“Some people still have the perception that all motorcycles are fundamentally dangerous, but with better education of car drivers, the right training, equipment and rider attitude they can be a practical, economic form of transport. And great fun too!”

What’s so good about:


Fuel economy up to four times that of cars
Beat the rush by skipping through traffic jams – journey times typically 30 per cent faster
Significantly cheaper insurance and other running costs
One day to licence pass – with a CBT typically costing just £125 and not £990 for a car
Enjoy the freedom of being out in the open and make the most of the summer breeze
Better for the environment
It’s fun – bikers are happier commuters
You’ll never have to buy de-icer
You never have to clean out empty crisp packets, sweet wrappers or coffee cups
You never have to pick your gran up from the airport
Parking has never been easier
You’ll never need to buy an air freshener


No helmet hair
You can take more than one passenger
There’s room for luggage, or the weekly shopping
Heating, air conditioning, a stereo and, of course, a roof
You can sleep in a car – and entertain guests…
You can drive backwards
Cup holders
You can’t fall off a car
Your dog can come for a drive with you

Insurers blacklist drivers based on postcode


Premiums are soaring as honest motorists foot the bill for the ‘fraud epidemic’ sweeping the country, which has lead to insurers secretly to blacklist certain postcodes.

Many car owners have seen a rise of up to forty per cent in insurance premiums over the past year, insurers are blaming an increase in fraudulent claims

An investigation has shown blacklisted areas of the UK where concentrations of fraudulent activity have taken place. These claims have lead some insurance companies to flat-out refuse some motorists insurnace in some areas.

The most popular fraudulent incidents include staged accidents, bogus injury claims and fronting, where parents claim they are the main driver for heir child’s car.

Top ten areas for fraudulent claims; Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, East London, Manchester, North London, Bolton, Blackburn, Southall and Oldham.

Birmingham tops the list with a staggering one in ten suspicious claims, with B8 – east Digbeth being one of the worst spots followed by B15 – Edgbaston

James Heath, head of counter fraud strategy at Keoghs, says: ‘We are now seeing what can reasonably be described as a fraud epidemic across the UK.

‘It is clear from these results that fraud is no longer restricted to the country’s most heavily built-up areas.’

See how your postcode affects your car and home insurance at