Auto registrations plummet in 2018

Jeannie Matthews
April 5, 2018

Hawes said despite the persistent run of falling call sales over the past year, the market was relatively strong, with last month's market was the fourth biggest March on record.

New auto sales in Britain fell for a 12th month in March, as demand for diesel vehicles slumped further, this time by more than one third, according to latest industry data.

The fall in overall demand was fairly uniform across different types of buyers, with private registrations down 16.5%, fleet registrations down 15%, and business registrations (to fleets with less than 25 vehicles) down 14.3%.

New auto sales declined in March 2018 by 15.7 per cent, but diesel-engined sales continued to fall more steeply as buyers avoided oil-burners, preferring petrol and AFVs.

New auto registrations have fallen for the 12th consecutive month, with year-to-date performance down -12.4 per cent.

Year-to-date figures show the same drop in demand, with diesel claiming 33.5% of the market from January to March this year, compared to 44% market share last year.

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"The decline in demand for diesel cars continues to be of concern and the latest tax changes announced by the government do nothing to encourage consumers to exchange their older diesel vehicles for new lower-emission models", SMMT said.

Year-to-date, 94,374 new LCVs have been registered on United Kingdom roads, a drop of -3.7% on the first quarter in 2017, with the bulk of the decline in the market for vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes. Registrations of petrol cars were stable, up 0.5 per cent.

The Ford Fiesta remained the country's favourite vehicle, with 19,272 units sold in March alone.

McGowan told 5 Live: "March is always a very busy month and so to take a 15% hit when there are hundreds being retailed, that's pretty bad news in itself". However, almost 720,000 new high-tech, low-emission cars left forecourts in the first quarter of 2018 as consumers took advantage of competitive offers, meaning last month's market was still the fourth biggest on record.

"This means creating the right economic conditions for all types of consumers to have the confidence to buy new vehicles", Hawes added. "The new van market is a key barometer of business confidence and while uncertainty remains, a degree of fluctuation in demand is to be expected this year".

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