UK Government announcements and tax costs are confusing car buyers, depressing sales and potentially slowing a switch to greener models, says the RAC.
The Government yesterday published its annual vehicle licensing statistics for 2017 and that report shows a 6% drop in first time registrations, down to 3.1 Million vehicles.
Cars made up over 80% of first time registrations or 2.5 Million while the 360,000 vans amounted to just under 12%.
|That raised the total number of vehicles known to be on UK roads. England accounted for 32.2 Million, Scotland 3.0 Million, Wales 1.9 Million and Northern Ireland 1.1 Million.
Last year, 53,000 EVs were registered, some 27% more than the previous year but it did not see a big rise in the greenest petrol cars while diesels dipped 17% and the middle ground expanded by ordinary petrol models.
Most popular ULEVs were the Mitsubishi Outlander, BMW 3 Series and Nissan Leaf.
|As a whole, the Ford Fiesta was the best seller, with 93,000 new registrations, the VW Golf accounted for 76,000 and Ford Focus 69,000 while Ford, Volkswagen, Vauxhall, Mercedes and BMW comprised 41% of all first time registrations last year in Britain.
Ford Transit registrations exceeded one-in-four new van models over the 12 months.
Women now account for nearly 40% of registered keepers, a 61% rise since 1997.
RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said, “These statistics appear to confirm an uncomfortable truth – that new car registrations are falling because there is increasing confusion over what vehicles drivers should opt for next.
“The risk is that owners are holding on to their older vehicles for longer. This is bad news as far as efforts to improve local air quality is concerned as like-for-like newer models have lower emissions.”
He went on, “As we feared, it also seems to be the case that the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty brought in last year may be actively putting people off choosing an ultra-low emission vehicle.
“While drivers of electric vehicles benefit from paying no vehicle tax, those that opt for new ultra-low-emission vehicles now pay more after the first year than they did previously, which arguably doesn’t send the right message to prospective buyers looking to do the right thing.
“Indeed, after the first year, there is almost no car tax incentive to switch to any new vehicle with lower than average emissions.
“The numbers of ultra-low emission vehicles chosen by drivers still represent a tiny fraction of the total new registrations. The future might be zero-emission, but before we get there much more needs to be done to encourage people into the cleanest alternatives.”