05 December, 2018

UK car sales suffer modest fall in November

New car sales in the UK fell again in November, according to the latest data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figures reveal a modest 3% drop in the eleventh month of the year, with 158,639 units registered. The society blames stalling consumer confidence, supply delays due to the implementation of the new WLTP emissions test and model replacement by some manufacturers combined to affect overall sales.

Reflecting recent trends, demand for petrol vehicles rose by 3.5%, while alternatively fuelled vehicle sales increased by 24.6%. However, these increases failed to offset a 16.7% decline in diesel sales as the market continues to suffer.

Fleet registrations fell by 0.7%, with private sales down 6.4%. Business sales rose by 8.6% compared to the same period last year, although this only makes up 3.1% of the total UK market.

In the year to date, over 2.2 million cars have been sold in the UK, with an increasingly diverse range of models and technologies enticing buyers into showrooms. Car manufacturers are building on their existing ranges by adding electric and hybrid vehicles, which has helped the AFV market, and the carmakers themselves, as diesel sales continue their downward spiral.

Currently, the market is down 6.9% year-to-date. However, the SMMT highlights that this is in line with industry expectations, given current challenging conditions.

The petrol market is up by 8.8% compared to the first eleven months of 2017 and currently holds a 62.2% market share. AFV registrations are also up 22%. However, diesel sales have dropped significantly in 2018, down by 29.8%. At the end of November 2017, over one million diesel cars had been sold. By the same point this year, the figure was just over 700,000.

The UK car market is being impacted by a number of external factors. While sales in Europe are in flux, mainly due to WLTP and the falling diesel market, the UK is also suffering over consumer confidence due to Brexit, with manufacturers slowing production due to investment concerns, and the value of the pound being affected as the date the UK leaves the EU approaches.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, comments: ‘Model and regulatory changes combined with falling consumer confidence conspired to affect supply and demand in November. The good news is that, as supply constraints ease, and new exciting models come on sale in the months ahead, buyers can look forward to a wide choice of cutting-edge petrol, diesel and electrified cars. It is now critical that a Brexit deal is secured to boost consumer confidence and provide a stimulus to the new car market as we enter the New Year.’