Currently reading: New car registrations: market bucks trend with July growth
Increased demand for petrol and electrified cars leads to year-on-year growth in new car registrations

The new car market bucked recent trends and grew slightly in July, helped by increased demand for petrol and hybrid cars.

A total of 163,898 new cars were registered last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). That’s a 1.2% increase on the same period last year, and a boost compared with June, when new car registrations were down 3.5% year on year.

A total of 1,477,892 new cars have been registered so far this year – down 5.5% on the 1,563,808 registered in the first seven months of 2017.

New car registrations: first half of 2018 down 6.3%

Much of that decline can be attributed to the ongoing slump in demand for diesel; registrations of new diesel cars are down 29.6% so far in 2018. By contrast, petrol sales are up 12.3% – with a 20.1% increase in July. A total of 913,396 petrol cars have been registered in 2018, compared with 813,133 by this point last year.

There was similar growth among alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), with year-to-date registrations up 23.8%. That means AFVs account for 4.3% of all new cars registered so far this year – a record.

A total of 10,734 AFVs were registered in July, a 21.0% increase on the same month last year. Within that, demand for plug-in hybrids was up 33.5%, with hybrid registrations growing by 17.5%. Demand for electric vehicles grew 2.4%.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “It’s great to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this growth, and the Government’s acknowledgement of the vital role new-tech diesel will play in its Road to Zero strategy should help even more motorists benefit from the latest, safest and low-emission technology over the coming months.”

The Ford Fiesta was once again the UK's best-selling car, with 6222 sold in July. So far, 62,637 Fiesta have been sold in the UK this year.

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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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ThomasMore 7 January 2020


What is something has affected you decidedly in your life. Write from the point of view an overlooked or lost toy.

Rollocks 7 August 2018

Mr Hawes....

... seems to despise petrol-engined cars. He never has a good word to say about them. Is he mad? Or just utterly befuddled by Brexit?

What noise do donkeys make? Hee Hawes, Hee Hawes....

scotty5 6 August 2018

Fake news.

No - it's all lies. Car sales are down because of the uncertainty over Brexit. I know that to be true because folk like Mike Hawes keeps telling us so.