‘Modest’ overall decline in November new car sales

The UK new car market declined by a modest -3.0 per cent in November with some 158,639 units registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Stalling consumer confidence, supply delays due to implementation of the new WLTP emissions test and model replacement all combined to affect overall sales.

Reflecting recent trends, demand for petrol and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose 3.5 per cent and 24.6 per cent respectively, but failed to offset a -16.7 per cent fall for diesel cars. While fleet and private registrations fell in turn by -0.7 per cent and -6.4 per cent, business sales rose 8.6 per cent, though the latter makes up only 3.1 per cent of the market.

In the year to date, more than 2.2 million buyers have taken advantage of an increasingly diverse range of models, including ever-more zero and low emission vehicles as manufacturers continue investing in technologies to produce the cleanest vehicles ever made. The market was down -6.9 per cent on the first 11 months of 2017, but is in line with industry expectations given current challenging conditions.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Model and regulatory changes combined with falling consumer confidence conspired to affect supply and demand in November. The good news is that, as supply constraints ease, and new exciting models come on sale in the months ahead, buyers can look forward to a wide choice of cutting-edge petrol, diesel and electrified cars. It’s now critical that a Brexit deal is secured to boost consumer confidence and provide a stimulus to the new car market as we enter the New Year.”

Commenting on the figures, Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK, said: “The new car market saw a marginal decline in November and remains in line with annual forecasts. Going forward, when short-term challenges are overcome, the market is expected to see the positive impacts”.

Robinson continued: “The trend in pure electric and plug-in vehicles sales is encouraging. Consumer appetite is increasing and, as supply improves, we expect electric vehicles’ market share to continue to grow.

“Franchised retailers are fully embracing the latest fuel types as recent joint initiatives between industry and Government demonstrate. “Addressing the issues affecting the development of the most modern and efficient forms of transportation and ensuring accurate consumer information are franchised retailers’ priorities in today’s market.

“We look forward to December’s figures which will allow us to understand the full picture of 2018’s new car market”. pg

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