A large majority of dealers surveyed by Close Brothers Motor Finance said they were confident about business prospects in the market for 2018.

Close Brothers interviewed 200 dealers for the survey between August and October, and of these 92% said they were confident, up from 63% in the previous survey.

The figure was even greater when asked about their own business – 57% said they were very confident and 40% said they were fairly confident about the outlook for their own firms in 2018.

This confidence was despite falling car registrations in 2017, something predicted to continue for at least the first half of 2017.

The Close Brothers research found that one in seven (14%) dealers saw the expansion of different types of vehicles on offer and maintaining stability as the two biggest opportunities for the year ahead. One in ten saw the proliferation of new finance products and a similar number (9%) the changes in consumer behaviour as the biggest opportunity for 2018.

When it came to potential risks, 21% said Brexit was the greatest threat to their business over the next 12 months, followed by economic downturn (17%) and legislation and regulation (11%).

Chris Bosworth, director of strategy at Close Brothers Motor Finance said: “Our quarterly Dealer Satisfaction Survey is a granular look at the current sentiment of dealers in the UK, and provides us with real insight into current and future priorities of dealers nationwide. With technology evolving, consumer behaviour changing, and the heightened political and economic uncertainty since the Brexit vote last year, it’s positive that dealers are feeling confident for the year ahead.

“It’s interesting that dealers cite the expansion of the new types of vehicles on offer as one of the biggest opportunities for their businesses. The government’s decision to tackle pollution by imposing a ban on all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 has already had a meaningful impact on motorists buying behaviour. Since the announcement this summer, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has reported consecutive decreases in the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles whilst renewable energy vehicles have grown in popularity month on month. With consumer support for these vehicles ever growing, it is essential that dealers maintain and grow their understanding of this market and have the right cars on their forecourts.”