UK new car registrations fell by 6.7 per cent last month, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
A total of 10,348 fewer cars were registered than in October last year, reflecting a tough environment for businesses and consumers as economic and political uncertainty continued to affect confidence.
The decline was driven by falling demand from private consumers, said the SSMT, with registrations down by 13.2 per cent. Business demand also fell, while fleet registrations remained stable at 0.3 per cent. There was a mixed picture across body types, with the popular supermini segment experiencing a substantial decline (23.4 per cent), while dual-purpose and small family car registrations grew by 7.1 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.
Registrations of diesel cars fell for the 31st month – down 28.3 per cent – while petrols also declined, by 3.2 per cent. Bucking the overall trend, electrified cars continued to grow in popularity. Hybrid-electric cars increased by a considerable 28.9 per cent, with 7,950 leaving showrooms, as battery-electric vehicle registrations almost tripled – up 151.8 per cent to 3,162 units.
Plug-in hybrids, however, fell just short of their positive performance in the same month last year – down 1.7 per cent. Combined, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations reached 9.9 per cent of the market share in the month – the highest on record and up from 6.9 per cent last year.
Year to date, the new car market remains in decline – down 2.9 per cent on the first 10 months of 2018. The fall reflects continued uncertainty over diesel and clean air zones, stunted economic growth and uncertainty over Brexit, stated the SMMT.
Chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies.
‘The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.
‘Whether the general election delivers a ‘‘bounce’’ to the economy remains to be seen, but with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra-low and zero-emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.’