UK new-car market falls in January

Posted on 22 Feb 2020 and read 539 times
UK new-car market falls in JanuaryThe UK new-car market fell by 7.3% in January (compared with January 2019) according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

149,279 vehicles left showrooms in January “as continued confusion surrounding diesel and clean air zones and on-going weak consumer and business confidence continue to affect demand”.

Continuing low consumer demand was a key driver behind the decline, with registrations by private buyers down 13.9%; and while fleet registrations also fell, they were down just 2.2%.

Registrations of new diesel cars fell for the 34th consecutive month — by 36.0% — to record the weakest performance since 2000 and just a 19.8% share of the market.

The demand for petrol cars also declined, by 9.5%.

That said, the demand for alternatively fuelled cars continued to grow. Hybrid electric cars (HEVs) increased by 20.6% (compared with January 2019), with 8,941 ‘hitting’ British roads, while the demand for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) more than doubled — up 111.1% to 4,788 units.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations also increased markedly — up 203.9% to 4,054 units and a 2.7% share of the market.

Combined, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations took 11.9% of the market in January (the highest percentage on record), up from 6.8% in January 2019.

The figures came a day after the Government announced its ambition to end the sale of all vehicles with an internal-combustion engine (including HEVs and PHEVs) by 2035 — earlier than originally planned.

The SMMT (www.smmt.co.uk) said: “Fleet renewal remains the quickest way to address environmental concerns, and it is important that consumers feel confident in purchasing these latest technologies, if we are to address environmental concerns immediately.

"For the UK market to stand any chance of meeting the extremely challenging 2035 goal, an extensive package of government support is vital.

"These measures must support a smooth and sustainable transition for industry and consumers, whatever their income or driving needs.”

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 the 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.”

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