SMMT blames low consumer demand and diesel confusion for substantial year-on-year decline
5 February 2020

Britain's new car market tumbled by 7.3% year-on-year in January, figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal. 

A total of 149,279 vehicles were registered across the month, down by just under 12,000 from the same month last year. Diesel car sales again declined substantially, and has a market share of below 20% for the first time in twenty years. Petrol car registrations also dropped by 9.5%, however. 

Top 10 best-selling cars in Britain 2019

The SMMT blames "continued confusion surround diesel and clean air zones and ongoing weak consumer and business confidence" for the fall. Private sales were hit the hardest - down 13.9% - with fleet registrations taking a less substantial 2.2% hit. 

There is some good news, however: alternatively-fuelled cars continued their steady but significant rise throughout 2019, capturing a record 11.9% of the market. 

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The influx of mild-hybrid models was the biggest driver (diesel mild hybrids are up 721% year-on-year), but hybrids (up 20.6%), plug-in hybrids (up 111%) and battery electric vehicles (up 204%) are all growing in popularity. EVs now make up 2.7% of the market, compared to just 0.8% in the same period the year before. 

SMMT chief Mike Hawes called the overall market decline "unsettling", however. 

"Consumer confidence is not returning to the market and will not be helped by the government's decision to add further confusion and instability by moving the goalposts on the end of sale of internal combustion engine cars.

"While ambition is understandable, as we must address climate change and air quality concerns, blanket bans do not help... government must lead the transition with an extensive and appropriately funded package of fiscal incentives, policies and investment to drive demand". 

Read more: 

New car registrations fall for third consecutive year

New tax rules herald EV sales boom

UK car production output lowest since 2010

 

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Comments
8

5 February 2020

I'm not sure that mild hybrids should be listed as 'alternatively fuelled vehicles'? This tech saves a small amount of fuel but the cars still can't drive a millimetre without using fossil fuel!

5 February 2020

Mike Hawes says...   Now we're blaming the government for moving the goalposts - is this guy for real?

As a private owner, I'm not going to buy a petrol, diesel or hybrid car in Jan 2020 because the government won't let me buy one in 2035 !!!!!!

The SMMT are unreal. For the past few years, I've been told I'm not going to buy a new car because of the uncertainty over Brexit but now that 'remain' is off the table, you'll note no mention of our leaving the EU as a factor.

The real question I ask myself is what are the January sales figures for France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Denmark etc. If they all show a similar decrease, how can the SMMT blame this on our government?

5 February 2020

What is a car sold today worth if it is to be obsolete in less than 15 years? The UK car market is going to collapse, I can't see it going any other way. Personally I don't care, can anyone say why the UK (ICE) car market won't collapse or be virtually worthless.  

5 February 2020
405line wrote:

What is a car sold today worth if it is to be obsolete in less than 15 years? The UK car market is going to collapse, I can't see it going any other way. Personally I don't care, can anyone say why the UK (ICE) car market won't collapse or be virtually worthless.  

A car sold today that's 15 years old is going to be worth maybe £750 in today's money at best (unless its something that's going to appreciate in value) so even if they actually banned petrol cars in 2035 it's a non issue.

The ICE market won't collapse because they aren't going to be banned. However it's going to disappear faster than many realise.

5 February 2020

Just so commenters are aware, as of 2035 SALES of petrol and diesel cars will be banned, they're not going to be banned from the roads, so I very much doubt that this will effect any car purchases now. Also, surely if there is an effect, it will be a positive effect on electric cars fuelling customer purchases, so I think the doomsday predictions for the car industry are somewhat unfounded. 

5 February 2020

I hope the government quickly realise that using the motor industry as a convenient political football to satisfy loby groups and divert attention from more challenging issues is at best short sighted and is actually highly irresponsible.

5 February 2020
Mike Hawes should change his name to moaning minnie. 15 years is a long time to put enough of the right type of cars on the roads.
If we go by his plan, we will all be driving dirty diesels well into the next century.

6 February 2020

We are all guessing at best, we don't know, the Government can only go by there figures, and like us they can't predict the future.

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