New car registrations fell 12.2% in October across all parts of the market, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders today.
Sales totalled 158,192, leaving registrations in the year to date down 4.6% compared with 2016 led by a decline in business and consumer confidence, said the SMMT chief executive Michael Hawes.
Demand for diesel cars slumped by about 30% and the industry body called for the autumn statement to clarify policies on the newest diesels to stablise their collapsing sales. Plug-in hybrid and electric car sales have soared by contrast with those eligible for grant assistance up 47.5% double what it was a year ago.
“Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel,” said Mr Hawes. SMMT said van and pick up sales are also down by 7.4% as commercial buyers pull back from contracts.
|Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, responded to the drop, “The Government’s ongoing crackdown on older ‘dirty diesel’ has had a significant impact on the new car market.
“Despite registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles rising and a slight uplift in sales of petrol cars, the overall market was down by more than 12% last month as these efforts failed to balance out diesel’s sharp decline.
“With the widespread uncertainty and general confusion surrounding diesels and the potential for charges and restrictions in London and other major cities, a distinct lack of buyer confidence is the primary reason for this dramatic drop.
“We would expect to see this trend continue if the Government fails to intervene, so Mike Hawes has rightfully called for this problem to be tackled in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
“Confidence in new, cleaner diesel vehicles must be restored and consumers need to understand that no town or city has plans to charge Euro 6 diesels to enter.”
But it could be too late to restore the diesel market said Alex Buttle from car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk.
“These figures make depressing reading for the car industry. Petrol and alternative fuel figures were actually up in October, but diesel sales continue to flounder.
Sales in Wales recover
|In Wales, new car sales slipped just 10.26% last month, well below the UK average.
October saw 5,394 new registrations compared to 6,011 12 months ago. Despite the dip in UK overall sales they are just 4.54% behind YTD for the first ten months of 2016 and with some strong incentives from dealers and manufacturers pushing money into them and cutting prices in various ways it’s possible the total 2017 sales will be close to last year.
Ford dominated the best sellers in Wales last month, the only part of the UK where they did so.
Wales October top ten
Audi A1 98
“Diesel’s market share is plummeting and consumers aren’t listening to rhetoric about cleaner diesel models, however much the industry drums on about it. The damage has been done,” he said.
“While it’s understandable the SMMT is not deserting diesel and urging the government to act to reassure consumers that new diesel cars will be ‘safe’ from toxin tax punishment, is this a lost cause?
“Maybe it’s time focus is shifted towards giving attractive tax incentives for purchasing alternative fuel vehicles to encourage growth in this area.
“Consumers are showing huge interest in eco-friendly cars and it’s reflected in new registrations. AFVs are the future of the car industry and the government need to adapt to changing times if it has any interest in keeping the new car market buoyant.”
The UK collapse contrasts with a 4.6% rise in overall Western European car sales last month. Booming business in France, Germany, Spain and Italy more than offset the British down-turn.
|The Freight Transport Association has reacted with concern to last week’s announcement by the Mayor of London of the introduction of the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), 17 months earlier than originally intended.
According to FTA, the short timeframe to its introduction will leave operators with vehicles they cannot use, with massively reduced or no residual value for resale.
It is compounded by the fact that other cities are considering similar bans on transport in densely populated areas in future years.