The UK new car market declined again in October, with 153,599 vehicles registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Deliveries fell by -2.9 per cent in the month, as model changes and backlogs at test houses conducting tough new WLTP emissions certification continued to cause shortages across some brands.
Continuing uncertainty over government policy on diesel saw demand for these new, low emission vehicles fall by a further -21.3 per cent.
Registrations of petrol cars rose +7.1 per cent, while the market for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) once again showed strong growth, up +30.7 per cent, supported by new models.
Alternatively fuelled vehicles
Zero emission battery electric vehicles were up +86.9 per cent, as 584 more people drove one home than in the same month last year.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which make up the majority of AFV sales, also enjoyed strong uplifts, growing +31.0 per cent and +19.1 per cent respectively.
The figures come as SMMT publishes new industry forecasts for AFV demand, with registrations expected to grow +82.5 per cent from 2017 levels by 2020.
Similar growth (+88.3 per cent) is projected for plug-in electric cars, with 92,620 new plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars expected to be sold in the same year – taking market share to around 4.0 per cent.
This is at the lower end of government’s 3-7 per cent stated ambition, with cuts to the Grant further undermining industry’s ability to deliver this ambition.
In the year to date, the overall new car sector remains down -7.2 per cent on the same period last year, albeit with more than two million new cars registered in the first ten months of 2018.
“Confusion over diesel”
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “VED upheaval, regulatory changes and confusion over diesel have all made their mark on the market this year so it’s good to see plug-in registrations buck the trend.
“Demand is still far from the levels needed to offset losses elsewhere, however, and is making government’s decision to remove purchase incentives even more baffling.
“We’ve always said that world-class ambitions require world-class incentives and, even before the cuts to the grant, those ambitions were challenging.
“We need policies that encourage rather than confuse.
“Government’s forthcoming review of WLTP’s impact on taxation must ensure that buyers of the latest, cleanest cars are not unfairly penalised else we will see older, more polluting cars remain on the road for longer.”