Hybrid and electric car sales have broken records while diesel continues terminal decline, according to the latest car sales figures from the industry in Britain.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders July registrations showed a very modest 1.2% rise in overall sales, helped by strong demand for convertibles and sales incentives by manufacturers and dealers after months of disappointments.
AFVs went up over 21% while diesel dropped over 24% and petrol rose 20%, and year to date sales are down 5.5% under the 2017 level.
The boost could be short-lived as the usually quiet August sales month reflects the summer holidays exodus and the fact some buyers will hold off registrations until the 68-new-plate in September.
|But then another obstacle for some manufacturers will be getting enough supplies of new models which have passed the tough WLTP emissions test.
To offset the delays, some car makers and dealers are pre-registering cars to beat the September deadline but these will strictly be nearly-new and come with discounts as used models or company demonstrators so the margins will be reduced unless backed up by manufacturers underwriting the marked-down sticker price.
The situation for diesel values will become interesting as companies defleet and buy newer models and it will need a carefully managed resale programme if the sector is to avoid a collapse, which will also hit private diesel sellers, although buyers of such models could pick up bargains.
|July top ten in the UK:|
Alex Buttle, director, car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk said, “While it’s encouraging that AFV sales have hit record levels, diesel sales have plummeted faster than perhaps anyone expected.
“And without a new catalyst for resurrection planned by the industry or Government, and the major manufacturers focused on their plans for electric and hybrid development, has diesel’s fate been sealed?
“There’s only one direction diesel sales are going sadly and that’s downwards. This trend is beginning to feel irreversible. Diesel’s fall from grace has been dramatic, and the car industry’s past efforts to promote the benefits of Euro 6 diesel cars have not borne fruit.
“Confidence is shattered and it’s not difficult to see why when you look at the numbers.
“July 2018 was the 16th consecutive month of negative sales figures, and the 13th month where sales have fallen more than 20%. In November 2016, diesel had more market share than petrol, but now its market share has fallen so rapidly that it lags petrol by 30%.
“Sales in petrol and AFVs are taking up some of the slack from faltering diesel sales, but there’s a lot of slack to pick up.
“It would make more sense to take diesel out of the equation altogether and look at petrol and AFVs in isolation, as the picture is a lot brighter. Although the AFV market is under intense pressure to hit spectacular numbers every month, there are positive signs that this growth is attainable.
“There is real momentum behind these figures now and you do start to get the feeling that consumers are feeling more comfortable about the switch over to electric and hybrid vehicles.
“However, the Government still needs to do more to support the switch over. Its Road to Zero proposal outlined investment into the charging infrastructure, which is clearly a vital component of the switch over, but an outline on financial support for buyers was noticeable by its absence.
“At a time when household finances are stretched, and are likely to be more stretched next year when we leave the EU, where are the financial incentives to encourage consumers to switch early?
“Instead, more people are likely to hold off buying a new car altogether or will simply buy good value used cars in the second hand market, until the picture becomes clearer.”