UK new car market declines further

Registrations fall by 7.3 per cent in January as private and fleet demand declines

UK new car market declines further
Industry calls for extensive package of incentives to accelerated match 2035 zero-emission transport ambitions – including long-term commitment to the Plug-in Car Grant.

The UK new car market declined further in the first month of 2020, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Continuing low consumer demand was a key driver behind the decline, with registrations by private buyers down 13.9 per cent, while fleet registrations also fell but by 2.2 per cent.

Registrations of new diesel cars fell for the 34th month, by 36 per cent to record the weakest performance since 2000 and just 19.8 per cent share of the market, while petrol demand also declined, by 9.5 per cent.

Related: Boris Johnson brings forward petrol and diesel car sales ban to 2035

Alternatively fuelled cars, however, continued to grow in popularity.

Hybrid electric cars (HEVs) increased by 20.6 per cent, with 8,941 hitting British roads, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) demand more than doubled, up 111.1 per cent to 4,788 units.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations were up 203.9 per cent to 4,054 units and a 2.7 per cent market share.

Combined, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations reached 11.9 per cent of the market in January – the highest on record, up from 6.8 per cent in the same month last year.

The figures come a day after government announced its ambition to end the sale of all vehicles with an internal combustion engine, including HEVs and PHEVs, by 2035.

“Another month of decline is unsettling”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The new car market is a key driver of the UK’s overall economy, so another month of decline is unsettling.

“Consumer confidence is not returning to the market and will not be helped by government’s decision to add further confusion and instability by moving the goalposts on the end of sale of internal combustion engine cars.

“While ambition is understandable, as we must address climate change and air quality concerns, blanket bans do not help short-term consumer confidence.

“To be successful, government must lead the transition with an extensive and appropriately funded package of fiscal incentives, policies and investment to drive demand.

“We want to deliver air quality and environmental improvements now but need a strong market to do so.”

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