UK new cars sales down, not out

Autocar - - NEWS -

UK NEW CAR reg­is­tra­tions fell al­most 7% year on year to 2.36 mil­lion units in 2018, with a near-30% drop in diesel reg­is­tra­tions ac­count­ing for the most no­table de­cline in the mar­ket.

How­ever, the to­tal – down from a high of 2.69m in 2016 – is still in line with the UK’S 10-year sales av­er­age and main­tains the UK’S po­si­tion as the sec­ond-largest new car mar­ket in Europe.

Reg­is­tra­tions for diesels have now fallen for 21 con­sec­u­tive months. Petrol reg­is­tra­tions in­creased by 8.7% in 2018, year on year, and reg­is­tra­tions of plug-in hy­brid and elec­tric ve­hi­cles rose 21%.

Un­der­lin­ing the im­pact of the diesel col­lapse, the 30% fall equates to 316,000 reg­is­tra­tions – al­most twice the drop in 2018 reg­is­tra­tions from the 2017 fig­ure of 2.54m.

The So­ci­ety of Mo­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Traders (SMMT) boss Mike Hawes also high­lighted other fac­tors in the de­cline, in­clud­ing fall­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence in bigticket pur­chases, is­sues aris­ing from Brexit and the sup­ply short­age in the wake of WLTP econ­omy cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which low­ered some man­u­fac­tur­ers’ reg­is­tra­tions by al­most 50% in Sep­tem­ber.

“The be­lief is that con­sis­tent mes­sag­ing and on­go­ing demon­stra­tion of the ben­e­fits of the lat­est diesels could un­lock some of the mar­ket,” said Hawes. “The ev­i­dence is clear: some diesel own­ers are hold­ing on to their cars rather than re­plac­ing them, and if we can bring the facts home to them, then we would hope they will re­place them with con­fi­dence.”

The SMMT is pre­dict­ing a fur­ther 2% fall in reg­is­tra­tions in 2019, although Hawes cau­tioned that the fig­ure was based on “known is­sues” and that it could swing dra­mat­i­cally. He high­lighted a po­ten­tial post­brexit deal eco­nomic up­swing as a po­ten­tial pos­i­tive, and a po­ten­tial no-deal Brexit slump as “po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic”.

New car reg­is­tra­tions for 2018 in UK: 2.36m, an an­nual fall of 7%

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