UK car sales increased by 10.4% in April compared to the same month in 2017 thanks a big boost in demand for petrol vehicles.
167,911 new cars were registered in April, with the increase almost entirely due to a 38.5% year-on-year uplift in deliveries for petrol cars. A total of 107,169 petrol-powered cars were registered in April alone.
Diesel cars, however, continued to be rejected by new car buyers, with a 24.9% year-on-year decline in sales leaving its total for April at 51,377 units. Diesel's share of the new car market has fallen to 32.9% for the year to date - in the same period of 2017 it held a 44.1% share.
The diesel downturn contrasted with sales for alternatively fuelled cars (mainly hybrids and electric vehicles), which were up by 49.3% in April compared with the same month last year. With 9365 new AFVs on the roads, the market share is still a relatively small 5.6%, but that’s up from 4.1% in April 2017.
Although the rise in registrations ends a longstanding slump in demand that’s has a knock-on effect on Britain’s car manufacturing output, Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers boss Mike Hawes said that April’s results don’t signal a change in fortunes for the industry.
The main contributor to April’s gain was the lower-than-average performance in the same month last year. April 2017 suffered a decline in registrations thanks to changes to car vehicle excise duty (VED), which caused many buyers to purchase cars the month before, therefore depressing the April market.