United Kingdom new auto market declines for 12th consecutive month

Posted April 06, 2018

However, overall, sales of new cars have continued to dip - with volumes of vehicles registered falling 12.4% compared to the first quarter in 2017.

New vehicle registrations declined in March by 15.7 percent compared with the same month previous year according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Sales of diesel cars have plummeted in the United Kingdom as "economic and political uncertainty" over the government's air quality plans are dampening confidence, according to the motor industry's trade body.

Sales were inflated in March a year ago, when customers brought forward purchases to beat a tax rise, meaning the sector had expected a drop as demand in Europe's second-biggest vehicle market cools. Registrations of gasoline cars were essentially stable, up 0.5%.

The slump in demand for diesel-engined cars has continued to hit the United Kingdom new vehicle market, which declined by 15.7% year on year in March.

Consumers continued to ditch diesel cars last month for automobiles that are regarded as more environmentally-friendly. Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell in March, down -14.3%, -15.0% and -16.5% respectively.

Mr Hawes urged the Government to do more to encourage motorists to ditch their old cars and replace them with new, cleaner vehicles.

The Ford Fiesta remained the country's favourite vehicle, with 19,272 units sold in March alone.

In the first quarter of this year 146,614 of these vehicles hit British roads, an increase of 2.7%, as the inclement weather appeared to lead to a boost in registrations.

All new diesels have been subjected to a one-band increase in the first-year vehicle excise duty rate since Sunday. However, almost 720,000 new high-tech, low-emission cars left forecourts in the first quarter of 2018 as consumers took advantage of competitive offers, meaning last month's market was still the fourth biggest on record.

Carwow's James Hind believes there is some good news for consumers, however, as the market tries to re-engage with vehicle buyers with strong discounts, especially for new diesel models. On the road, the vehicle fuel industry supports 40,000 jobs, and a further 347,000 are employed in vehicle servicing and fix.

The high level of decline follows a record-breaking 2017, as auto buyers scrambled to buy new vehicles before changes to vehicle tax last April.

"Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive".

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "A decline in the important plate change month of March is a concern and we need the right economic conditions to restore market stability and encourage buyers to invest in new commercial vehicles".