Car registrations down 2.9% in February
February is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year for new car registrations in the UK, coming as it does ahead of the March number plate change. It was even quieter this year – data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that last month’s sales were 2.9 per cent below those recorded in February 2019, with just 79,594 new cars registered in the UK during the month.
The SMMT considers the main factors driving the decline to be weak consumer confidence as well as uncertainty over which fuel technology to buy. Registrations by private buyers were responsible for the bulk of the overall loss. These were down 7.4 per cent year-on-year as 2,741 fewer people took delivery of new cars. Fleet demand remained stable, up by 31 registrations.
Demand for both diesel and petrol cars fell in the month, with registrations of these vehicles decreasing 27.1 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively. Diesel cars now account for only 21.9 per cent of total sales. Registrations of hybrids (HEVs) rose 71.9 per cent to 4,154 units, while registrations of zero-emission capable cars also continued to enjoy growth, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rising more than three-fold to 2,508 units and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) up 49.9 per cent to 2,058. However, these vehicles still make up just 5.8 per cent of the market; and BEVs only 3.2 per cent.