Showing Off The Latest Number Plate Is Passé

Showing off the latest number plate to impress your neighbours is just so yesterday, according to a new study of car buyers’ habits.


Drivers are now more interested in the car itself – and they care most about having the latest model updates with features like personalised paintwork and option combinations, rather than rushing to snap up the newest registration plate.

No Delay

According to interviews with almost 1,000 motorists, almost four in five drivers now say that they wouldn’t delay the purchase of their car for a new number plate

Steady Growth

Dealers used to sell thousands of cars to customers with the promise of delivery on the first day a registration plate was released, so every other driver on the road would know they had a brand new car. But evidence suggests that most motorists no longer care about this as much. It has been the same story over the last two years, with online car sales steadily growing rather than showing big spikes during March and September, when new registration plates are released.

Latest Model

“Drivers used to love showing off their latest car with a brand new number plate,” says survey spokesman, Austin Collins. “But they are now more interested in having the latest model and more personalised cars.”


A new number plate used to be released once a year, prompting a surge in car sales over a short period. The current system, which introduces two new number plates a year – one in March and one in September – was designed to spread car sales throughout the year.


It’s still the case that, nationwide, about a third of annual car registrations take place in the months of March and September alone. But a large proportion of these are sold to businesses who take advantage of lower prices during those months, while many more are registered by dealers themselves. This helps them to meet their sales targets, and the cars are then slowly sold to the public over the next few months.

Best Deals

Collins went on: “Just over a quarter of the people we interviewed only care about the latest plate because they believe the best deals will be available on the new cars that are available just before it appears. When you throw in the other significant segment of people – those who just buy a new car when they feel they need it, regardless of any other consideration – it’s not surprising that almost a quarter of people think the number plate doesn’t matter anymore.”