UK new cars sales down, not out
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%