UK new car registrations in May grew by 3.4% year on year to 192,649 units, although the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggests that this is due to a particularly poor May 2017, so this may not be the recovery the industry has been waiting for.
In May, 6384 more cars were registered than in the same month of last year. New VED and falling buyer confidence amid the general election and Brexit uncertainty were blamed for the 8.5% decline posted in May 2017.
The new figure is still down on that in May 2016 (the best May since 2002), during which 203,585 cars were registered. However, in May 2016, diesel held 50% of the market, while petrol had 47.2% and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) just 2.8%. In May 2018, diesel made up less than a third of registrations, posting the 14th consecutive month of decline, while petrol had a strong majority of 61.8% and AFVs' market share almost doubled in two years to 5.8%.
Within car segments, specialist sports cars rose by 12.7% in May, alongside an 11.7% rise in convertible demand — an unusual trend for a market heavily focused on practical, five-door cars. Superminis, up 6%, and SUVs, up 19.2%, were the biggest growers in the high-volume segments.