New car sales in Wales slipped 5.5% in January.
Dealers reported 5,333 new cars registered in Wales last month compared to 5,641 12 months ago, the SMMT reported.
That was a slightly better performance than the UK combined figure which saw a 6.3% decline with 163,113 new cars leaving showrooms. Bad weather in Scotland seriously impacted on sales north of the border with a huge 15.1% drop.
The top ten in Wales January 2018 were:
Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Mokka, VW Golf, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Dacia Sandero, VW Polo, Toyota Yaris.
Simon Benson, head of motoring services at AA Cars, said, “This data is the first real temperature test of the overall health of the new car industry in 2018, and it paints a fairly bleak picture.
“With the market now in its 10th month of decline, motorists are clearly wary about purchasing a new vehicle. In fact, our own research suggests a lack of consumer confidence cost the industry an estimated £2.6 billion in 2017 alone.
“Diesel continues to lead this downturn, with sales dropping by more than 25% in January compared to the same month last year.
“Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles rose significantly last month, but this failed to make up for the slowdown in diesel sales.
“Only time will tell whether this trend will continue into March, marking a full year of falling sales. The government needs to act now to incentivise new car buyers back to forecourts before this decline causes real damage.”
Other industry observers said the decline in new car sales had been offset by dealers moving more used models, particularly nearly new or pre-registered cars from previous months.
Buyers are becoming very choosy about their spending and going for higher quality models now at lower prices on second hand forecourts but older cars are becoming much harder to move. Diesels are suffering particularly badly with concerns over emissions and future value at trade-in.