New car sales decline for eighth consecutive month
Sales of new vehicles in the UK fell for the eighth consecutive month it was revealed today in figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The SMMT figures highlight that November witnessed an overall drop in new car registrations with 11.2% fewer vehicles rolling off dealer forecourts year on year.
This figure paints a continuing trend against a backdrop of market uncertainty. Since June 2016's EU referendum the motor industry has been faced with a lack of clarity as to how future motoring legislation will be defined by the government. This lack of clarity is now appearing to cause concern and confusion amongst new car buyers as their new car purchases are put on hold.
The recent swirl of negative publicity around diesel engined vehicles, and the prospect of increased vehicle excise duty for more polluting vehicles, has also cast a further negative shadow. Figures released this week show that buyers are now shirking diesel engined vehicles increasingly in favour of petrol and alternative fuel options, and it is this segment of the market that has seen the strongest level of growth, with alternative fuel vehicles witnessing a 33.1% upward surge in registrations whilst diesels fell 30.6% in November alone.
Upon revealing today's figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive added, "An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from the government. Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. The decision to tax the latest low emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars. Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counterproductive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences."
Overall, new car registrations for the year to date fell by -5.0% year on year with 2,388,144 vehicles being driven away from showrooms across the UK.
Despite the negative outlook for the new car segment of the industry, there appear to be reasons to be cheerful for the used car market, with this segment continuing to witness buoyant sales figures. In the year to date, 6.3 Million buyers opted for a used car within the first 9 months of the year, translating to a growth of 0.1% year on year ensuring used car figures remain at their record high.
The full report from the SMMT and additional market breakdown can be read here.