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.
“It’s important not to look at one month in isolation and, given the major disruption to last April’s market caused by sweeping VED changes, this increase is not unexpected,” Hawes said.