New car registrations at lowest level since 2013, official data shows

Industry calls for measures to increase uptake of latest low emission vehicles

New car registrations at lowest level since 2013, official data shows
UK new car registrations fall 2.4 per cent in 2019 to 2.3 million units.

The UK’s new car market declined further in 2019, with annual registrations falling for the third consecutive year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 2,311,140 new cars were registered last year, representing a 2.4 per cent per cent decline.

Registrations from consumers are down 3.2 per cent, while the small volume business market also fell, down 34.4 per cent.

Fleet registrations remained broadly stable, up 0.8 per cent.

Demand fell across nearly all vehicle segments, with only the dual purpose and specialist sports categories experiencing growth, up 12 per cent and 19.2 per cent respectively.

Despite registrations of superminis and lower medium cars falling, these smaller vehicles remain the most popular – with a combined 57.1 per cent market share.

Petrol Vs diesel

There was modest growth in demand for petrol cars, up 2.2 per cent, but it wasn’t enough to offset the significant 21.8 per cent decline in diesel registrations.

December marked the 33rd month of diesel decline, as continued anti-diesel rhetoric and confusion over clean air zones hit demand.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles

Bucking the overall trend, combined alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations surged in 2019 to take a record 7.4 per cent market share.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) continued to dominate this sector, with registrations increasing 17.1 per cent to 97,850 units.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations experienced the biggest percentage growth, rising 144 per cent to 37,850 units and overtaking plug-in hybrids for the first time.

“Significant concern”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A third year of decline for the UK new car market is a significant concern for industry and the wider economy.

“Political and economic uncertainty, and confusing messages on clean air zones have taken their toll on buyer confidence, with demand for new cars at a six-year low.

“A stalling market will hinder industry’s ability to meet stringent new CO2 targets and, importantly, undermine wider environmental goals.

“We urgently need more supportive policies”

“We urgently need more supportive policies: investment in infrastructure; broader measures to encourage uptake of the latest, low and zero emission cars; and long term purchase incentives to put the UK at the forefront of this technological shift.

“Industry is playing its part with a raft of exciting new models in 2020 and compelling offers but consumers will only respond if economic confidence is strong and the technology affordable.”

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