Bump in the road to zero as low-emission car demand reverses in June

Time 9:12 am, July 4, 2019

UK NEW CAR registrations declined for a fourth consecutive month in June, with year-on-year demand falling by nearly five per cent to 223,421 units, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

A total of 1,269,245 new cars joined British roads in the first half of the year, down 3.4 per cent as ongoing confusion over low-emission zones and diesel, the removal of key ultra low emission vehicle incentives and an overall decline in buyer confidence affected the market.

Demand fell in all sectors, with private registrations seeing a decline of 4.8 per cent, while larger fleet and business registrations also fell, down 2.5 per cent and 37.1 per cent respectively. Declines were also seen across every vehicle segment, except dual purpose which grew by 9.1 per cent in June and 7.3 per cent year-to-date to take 22.6 per cent of the market. However, superminis remain the UK’s best-selling segment, making up 31 per cent of all registrations in the first six months.

Source: SMMT

The month saw growth for petrol and battery electric registrations, up three per cent and 61.7 per cent respectively, but this wasn’t enough to offset the continuing decline of diesel, which fell for the 27th month in a row (20.5 per cent. Significantly, plug-in hybrids continued the recent downward trend, falling by a massive 50.4 per cent, while hybrids also fell, by 4.7 per cent.

The performance tipped the overall alternatively fuelled vehicle sector into decline for the first time since April 2017, undermining efforts to reduce emissions through fleet renewal of the latest ultra low emission vehicles. This is despite ongoing investment, which has enabled manufacturers to offer British car buyers more choice than ever, with more than 350 models now available in the UK – 44 of them plug-ins.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Another month of decline is worrying, but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern. Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives.

‘If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure.

‘Fleet renewal remains the quickest way to address environmental concerns today and consumers should have the confidence – and support – to choose the new car that best meets their driving needs, whatever the technology, secure in the knowledge that it is safer and cleaner than ever before.’

Source: SMMT

MORE: UK new car market falls again in May

MORE: New car demand falls in April as plug-in hybrids take a hit

MORE: UK car market falls in March as uncertainty undermines buyer confidence

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