Petrol and alternatively fuelled cars were up, but not by enough to offset plummeting diesel sales
5 February 2018

Falling diesel car sales in January are the leading reason for an overall decline in the UK car market in the first month of the year.

The news reflects a continuing trend: in 2017, UK car sales dropped by 5.7%, with a 17.1% decline in diesels. However, diesels were hit even harder towards the end of last year, with a fall of 31.1% from July to December.

Top 10 best-selling cars in the UK

The number of diesel-engined cars sold in the UK dropped by 25.6% in January, contributing to an overall decrease of 6.3% (or 162,615 units sold) compared with the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Petrol car sales rose by 8.5% and alternatively fuelled vehicles (electric and hybrid models) by 23.9%, but both of these increases failed to offset the ongoing fall in diesel registrations. 

As a result, diesel market share now holds only 36% of the overall market. In the past, it has accounted for more than half of all cars sold. Electric and hybrid models are slowly gaining ground with 5.6% market share, compared to 3.5% in January last year. 

The SMMT, talking about the diesel fall, said "confusion over government policy continued to cause buyers to hesitate," referring to ongoing miseducation about brand new diesel cars having the same detrimental effect on air quality as older, diesel cars. 

By contrast to the UK, the overall German car market is expected to be up 12% in January, a source told Automotive New Europe, but diesel sales are set to have declined by 17%.

The hit on diesel has also affected UK car manufacturing: last week, it was announced 2017 production was down 3%. The downturn was largely attributed to poor domestic demand thanks to “declining business and economic confidence and confusion over government’s policy on diesel”, said the SMMT at the time.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The ongoing and substantial decline in new diesel car registrations is concerning, particularly since the evidence indicates consumers and businesses are not switching into alternative technologies but keeping their older cars running.”

He added: “Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality and reduce CO2, we need government policy to encourage take-up of the latest advanced low-emissiond diesels as, for many drivers, they remain the right choice economically and environmentally.”

The SUV segment was the only one to show growth in January, with a 6.6% uplift leading to a record market share. They now account for a fifth of all new car registrations. 

The biggest segment declines were mini, MPV and executive segments.

The Ford Fiesta, which holds the top spot the majority of the time, was a runaway success in January, selling 8335 units. By comparison, the second-placed Volkswagen Golf accounted for 4310 units. The Ford Focus came third. 

Car makers faring well in January include Mini which increased its sales compared to last January by 25.9%, while Seat was up by 9.0%. Those hardest hit include DS, down 55.9% and Fiat, down 46.8%.

Vauxhall, whose sales dramatically decreased in 2017, finishing the year 22.2% down, started 2018 slightly more positively, with a drop of 8.8%. A spokesman told Autocar there was "no single contributory factor to its latest results, but added that it expects its Grandland X SUV to contribute significantly to sales volume over the next few months. "We have the right mix [of models] now, with three SUVs. Admittedly we didn't before," he added. 

Volvo, whose new XC40 compact SUV adds to an a relatively new model line-up, has dropped 18.8%. Volvo UK boss Jon Wakefield said the registrations were in lines with its plan, and that retail customers were up 14%. He added: "With an extremely positive order take in January for the XC60, XC90 and new XC40, we anticipate a buoyant 2018 for Volvo in the UK.”

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Top 10 best-selling cars in the UK

2017 UK car sales fall 5.7%

UK car manufacturing falls 3% last year

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Comments
29

5 February 2018

Car owners are doubting what they are told by auto makers on emissions and are keeping their current cars longer until things become clearer. VED changes aside - which do not help - government policy is not the driver here but a lose of faith in the industry. The best solution is for manufacturers' to focus on genuinely achieving the Euro 6d standards and proving to people that their cars are cleaner then they were. They also need to offer a larger range of petrol engines. Then customers will come back.

5 February 2018

Fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality but not to reduce CO2, selling more cars is going to produce more CO2. Why is it that Mike Hawes (SMMT) is always promoting sales of diesels yet seems suspiciously quiet on promotion of electric vehicles. Mike Hawes main objective is sales and profit  and sales of electric vehicles which would improve air quality better than any diesel  does not fit his agender.

Mjrich

5 February 2018

Hes quiet on Electric vehicles cos they are selling very well. But diesel sales are dropping so CO2 levels are now going up. And there are not enough electric models in production at the moment to or enough electric vehicles made currently, for them to replace diesels. Quite obvious really.

XXXX just went POP.

5 February 2018

Was around 50% 3 years ago but I've always believed it's natural level to be around 15%-20%. I just didn't expect it to get there before 2020!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

5 February 2018
xxxx wrote:

Was around 50% 3 years ago but I've always believed it's natural level to be around 15%-20%. I just didn't expect it to get there before 2020!

Lol "natural levels" ? You mean without incentives to promote their sales ? Ok, so whats the "natural level" of EVs, hybrids and petrols then ? Cos none could be described as at "natural levels" currently due to the incentives. You cant have it both ways !

XXXX just went POP.

5 February 2018
typos1 wrote:

xxxx wrote:

Was around 50% 3 years ago but I've always believed it's natural level to be around 15%-20%. I just didn't expect it to get there before 2020!

Lol "natural levels" ? You mean without incentives to promote their sales ? Ok, so whats the "natural level" of EVs, hybrids and petrols then ? Cos none could be described as at "natural levels" currently due to the incentives. You cant have it both ways !

OK then if it makes you happy around "15% of market is about right in my opinion". Face it diesel fanboy/troll/stalker diesel levels won't be 50%, what's your take seeing as you're all to ready with the snide remarks.  

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

5 February 2018

You made a biased statement, I just pointed out your bias, calling me a fanboy/stalker/troll is just plain childish. I like EVs and I like diesels if you must know, but I m aware of the current disadvatages of both and I dont go round making ill thought out remarks be-moaning the bias towards one whilst claiming the bias towards others is "natural". As for thinking that the market "should be about 15%", thats ridiculous - you cant "think" that only 15% of people should want to buy diesel - how you gonna enforce that, with the thought police ?! And "fanboy/stalker/troll" comment could just as easily be applied to you, particularly with regard to your comments on alternatives to EVs like fuel cells and hydrogen. Your posts used to have some credibilty, the one I quoted earlier has none, the one I m relpying to now contains abuse and if you have to stoop that low youve clearly lost the argument.

XXXX just went POP.

5 February 2018
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The ongoing and substantial decline in new diesel car registrations is concerning, particularly since the evidence indicates consumers and businesses are not switching into alternative technologies but keeping their older cars running.”

Please don't talk to us about evidence. We know it's all rigged.

5 February 2018

Lol, one car company cheating in emissions tests does not = all evidence is rigged.

XXXX just went POP.

5 February 2018

Nissan 1.5 diesel tested worst of all, Ford Focus real world emissions 600% above limit, seriously Typos1 (neat name Btw) they really all are at it. In the last week a senior VW exec has been jailed for 7 years, while Mercedes and BMW have been busy sacking managers for falsifying figures. Oh and VW 2013 diesel beetle was more efficient at gassing monkeys than a 20 year old ford pick up... all true, you can’t make this stuff up. 

But the good news is that the Ford V8 Petrol in the real world is as efficient as a car with according to tests 35% less CO2 emissions.  

 

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