The March plate-change is upon us and make no mistake, this is still the key month of the year for new car buyers and dealers.

It’s also a good month for used sales opportunities with the influx of part-exchanges and end of contract PCP cars, a strong source of used cars as dealers will know their history.

So how will March 2020 fare?

While it will undoubtedly be the biggest month of the year, March has been in decline since hitting an all-time high in 2017 at 562,337 units, when more than a quarter of that year’s total registrations were achieved in a single month.

Since then, the March market fell -16% in 2018 and -3.4% in 2019.

Philip Nothard, Cox Automotive’s Customer Insight and Strategy Director, takes a ‘big picture’ quarterly view of the new and used markets…

“We expect new registrations in Q1 to settle at around 692,189 units, marginally down from 701,036 last year, with the market returning to more normal levels after the peak of 820,016 registrations in Q1 on 2017.

“March is likely to track at around 2019 levels, even allowing for an increase in demand from the fleet sector for electric vehicles, which qualify for benefit-in-kind tax exemption from April, because these will be subject to supply constraints,” he said.

Nothard forecasts the used car transactions will drop -2.7% in Q1 to around 1.9 million units as the market levels out after the peak of 2.1 million in 2017, with the ongoing challenge for dealers of matching supply to strong demand continuing through the year.

So, the new and used markets in March and Q1 are set to remain strong as they return to more sustainable levels.

A good reason for dealers to celebrate the certainty of March!

By Curtis Hutchinson