Banking Insurtech

UK car market hugely dependent upon motor finance

UK car market hugely dependent upon motor finance. Photo by Aleksei Kazachok,
Written by Daoud Fakhri

The UK car market has become extremely reliant upon finance deals, says Daoud Fakhri. Is this a sustainable business model?

The private new car market in the UK has shown phenomenal growth in recent years, but has become increasingly dependent on the availability of cheap credit to fuel its expansion. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that the number of new cars that were privately registered rose from 823,094 vehicles in 2011 to 1,206,250 in 2016, equating to a 47% increase.

However, over the same period the value of motor finance deals arranged for the purchase of such vehicles almost tripled, from £6.86bn in 2011 to £18.09bn in 2016, according to the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA). Consequently, while 63% of privately bought cars were acquired using motor finance deals in 2011, by 2016 this had risen to 87%.

Growth of UK motor finance market, 2011-16. Source: SMMT, FLA

Source: SMMT, FLA

The UK car market has therefore become extremely reliant upon finance deals, with manufacturers using competitively priced personal contract plans (PCPs) to promote consumer demand for their products.

However, this rapid rate of growth is unlikely to be sustained. A deteriorating economic outlook may lead to reduced consumer demand for new cars, and could prompt an increased risk of impairments on existing loans. Furthermore, falling secondhand car prices will prompt many PCP users to return their cars at the end of their deals, thus leaving manufacturers to deal with unwanted stock.

So, although the motor finance market has performed impressively, this has been achieved at the cost of elevated risk.

READ NEXT: Dan Preston from Metromile on insurtech and the cars of the future

– This article is reproduced with kind permission from GlobalData. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Photo by Aleksei Kazachok,

About the author

Daoud Fakhri

Daoud Fakhri is a senior analyst at GlobalData, specialising in issues related to the retail banking sector. He is well-versed in subjects ranging from the prospects for new and non-traditional entrants in the sector, to the future of branch banking, developments in online and mobile banking, and the issue of consumer trust.

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