Thursday, 24 January, 2019

New auto sales see biggest fall since 2008

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Mike Hawes SMMT chief executive says customers are'sitting on their hands Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Mike Hawes SMMT chief executive says customers are'sitting on their hands
Priscilla Morrison | 09 January, 2019, 09:26

Private, fleet and business registrations all fell in 2018, with the biggest losses felt in the fleet sector (down 7.3 per cent), while private motorists and smaller business operators registered 6.4 per cent and 5.6 per cent fewer new cars respectively.

Demand this year could also be distorted if Britons expect tariffs to be introduced after Brexit, perhaps pushing up registrations in the first three months of 2019.

Some diesel auto owners are switching to petrol (up 9%) or alternatively fuelled vehicles (up 21%) such as plug-in hybrids or pure electrics, but the majority are holding on to their existing cars, SMMT figures show.

Consumers continued to ditch diesel cars for automobiles seen as more environmentally-friendly. She went back to the data, nearly 30 per cent reflecting the development in other countries.

Diesels are, on average, 15-20 per cent more efficient than petrol equivalents and so have a substantial role to play in addressing climate change.

The increase in Carbon dioxide will not only impact on carmakers trying to meet emission targets but will also have an impact on government climate change targets.

"The industry is facing ever-tougher environmental targets against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty that is weakening demand so these figures should act as a wake-up call for policy makers", Hawes added.

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'Supportive, not punitive measures are needed to grow sales, because replacing older cars with new technologies, whether diesel, petrol, hybrid or plug-in, is good for the environment, the consumer, the industry and the exchequer'.

While demand for new cars fell in 2018, the SMMT reports that the market remains solid, with volumes on a part with the rolling 15-year average, while the United Kingdom new vehicle market remains the second highest in the European Union - behind Germany.

Europe is racing past the United Kingdom when it comes to electric vehicle sales growth.

The rise in petrol sales and drop in diesel means the average Carbon dioxide emissions of new cars sold in Britain in 2018 rose just under 3 per cent, posing a headache for automakers who need to reduce levels to meet stricter regulations.

"If you speak to most manufacturers and [ask], "What are the two most important factors in selling these new types of vehicles, ' they'll say 'incentives that are available, and [currency] exchange rates", he said.

"Rising residual values for electric vehicles will significantly help future new AFV sales in 2019 and beyond".

Looking at the overall new vehicle market, Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, concluded: "It's not time to panic and worth remembering that in absolute terms sales are still way ahead of the nadir we hit at the start of the decade".

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