New car registrations in the UK rose again last month, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Registrations grew by 2% year on year to 189,505, the highest number of vehicles registered in the UK in April since 2003.
The SMMT referred to the growth as “stable”. Sales of petrol models were up by 3.4%, but diesels were down by 0.6%, suggesting that the fallout of the Dieselgate scandal is still pushing buyers away from the black pumps.
Indeed, sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles were up by 26.8% to 6357 units, compared with 5013 in the same month last year. With diesel sales dropping by more than 500 units, it suggests some diesel buyers are turning to hybrids and electric cars when buying a more fuel-efficient car.
The sales increase in the overall market was the 43rd consecutive one. Registrations in March were the second highest on record, and with April’s growth, the market has now increased by 4.4% on the first four months of last year with 961,285 units registered.
Commenting on the latest figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After such a strong March, April’s steadier performance was to be anticipated and is in line with our expectations for the year.
“Consumer confidence remains high as buyers continue to capitalise on attractive finance deals, although this could be affected by political and economic uncertainty in the coming months.”
The Ford Fiesta was again the UK’s biggest-selling model last month. There also were appearances in the top 10 for the Volkswagen Golf (second on the list with 5645 units) and the Volkswagen Polo (sixth with 4063 units), and the pair are the fourth and sixth best-selling models so far this year.
Volkswagen’s overall registrations were down by 9.7% last month, with 16,877 units registered, compared with 18,690 this time last year. VW says despite the sales drop, confidence in the brand remains strong with both retailers and the public, and the April dip was down to a change in its rental deals. It also points out that the all-new version of its third best-selling model, the Tiguan, is due within a couple of months, an arrival that should boost sales.
There were also notable drops for market leader Ford (down by 6.82% year on year) and Vauxhall (down by 3.03%), although sales of Mercedes-Benz models surged by 19.79% in perhaps the biggest success story of the latest figures.
One new addition to the April top 10 was the Kia Sportage, the UK’s ninth best seller last month with 3167 units registered.