New car sales fall as drivers shun diesels

SMMT urges government to back new-tech diesel, as uncertainty continues to impact new car market

New car sales fall as drivers shun diesels
Growth in petrol and plug-in registrations isn't enough to offset heavy diesel declines.

The UK new car market declined in June, with year-on-year demand falling by -3.5 per cent, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

234,945 new cars joined British roads in the month as the market continues to stabilise following turbulence over the past year or so.

Demand from larger fleets fell -6.4 per cent, but business buyers with fewer than 25 vehicles on their books returned to showrooms, registering an 11.3 per cent uplift in demand after an 11-month long hiatus.

Private demand was largely flat, at -0.6 per cent.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles

The alternatively fuelled vehicle sector saw a 45 per cent increase in plug-in and hybrid registrations as consumers responded to a growing range of models.

Petrol cars also attracted more buyers, with demand up 12.3 per cent.

However, this growth was not enough to offset continuing decline in diesel registrations, with a -28.2 per cent fall a result of continuing consumer uncertainty over future policy towards this technology.

June capped off a turbulent first half of the year, distorted by the previous year’s VED hikes, with the market experiencing a severe double-digit decline in March followed by a stronger April and May, when year on year demand grew.

Overall demand remains down

Year-to-date, overall demand remains down, by some -6.3 per cent to 1,313,994 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Despite a rocky first six months for the new car market, it’s great to see demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to rise.

“Given these cars still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver.

“Recent government statements acknowledging the importance of petrol and diesel are encouraging.

“However, we now need a strategy that supports industry investment into next generation technologies and puts motorists back in the driving seat, encouraged to buy the car that best suits their needs – whatever its fuel type.”

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