THE UK new car market sank by 2.9 per cent last month, according to data published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
A total of 79,594 models were registered in the month, traditionally one of the year’s quietest ahead of the crucial March number plate change, with the decline driven primarily by weak consumer confidence and uncertainty over what fuel technology to buy, said the industry body.
Registrations by private buyers were responsible for the bulk of the overall loss, down some 7.4 per cent as 2,741 fewer people took delivery of new cars. Fleet demand, however, remained stable – up by 31 registrations.
Demand for both diesel and petrol cars fell in the month, with registrations down 27.1 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively, and diesel now accounting for just over a fifth of sales (21.9 per cent).
Hybrids (HEVs) recorded an uplift of 71.9 per cent to 4,154 units, while registrations of zero-emission-capable cars also continued to enjoy growth, with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) rising more than threefold to 2,508 units and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) up 49.9 per cent to 2,058. However, these vehicles still make up just 5.8 per cent of the market and BEVs only 3.2 per cent.
The SMMT is calling for the removal of VAT from all new battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric cars to encourage their uptake.