New car market falls in July as demand declines across business and consumer sectors

Time 9:26 am, August 4, 2017

THE UK new car market fell by 9.3 per cent in July, according to figures published today by SMMT – the fourth consecutive monthly fall.

A total of 161,997 new cars were registered in the month as the market continues to fall amid growing uncertainty over Brexit and in line with forecasts.

Demand was down across business, fleet and private buyers – with corresponding falls of 23.8 per cent, 10.1 per cent and 6.8 per cent. Elsewhere, more buyers opted for dual-purpose and specialist sports cars, which were the only two vehicle segments to enjoy growth: 7.3 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively.

Mike Hawes

Mike Hawes

The demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) soared by 64.9 per cent as consumers continue to invest in the latest low-emission fuel technology. AFVs took a new record 5.5 per cent market share in July, as 8,871 new units were driven off forecourts. Nearly 70,000 new AFVs have joined UK roads this year. Meanwhile, registrations for new petrol and diesel cars declined by three per cent and 20.1 per cent respectively.

Months of speculation about government policies on diesels have inevitably led to a softening of demand and slowed the market shift to the latest cleaner Euro 6 diesels, which are valued by consumers for their fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.

So far the year-to-date overall performance remains at a high level thanks to a strong first quarter, with more than 1.5 million new cars registered on UK roads since January.

New car registrations for July between 2001 and 2017. Graphic by SMMT.

New car registrations for July between 2001 and 2017. Graphic by SMMT.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock-on effect on demand in the new car market and the government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit.

‘While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans.

‘It is important to remember that there are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 models and no proposed bans for conventional petrol and diesel vehicles for some 23 years. The lower demand in recent months will inevitably mean competition from manufacturers will intensify, and it will be a good opportunity for consumers to get a great deal on their next car, with many exciting new models launched in the coming months.’

Main image: Andrew Matthews PA Wire/PA Images

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