Brexit: New vehicle registrations plummet in March

New car market declines again in March

British new vehicle registrations fell as much as 15.6 per cent in March as demand for diesel cars continues to decline - drop of just over 37 per cent in the number of new diesel cars bought.

Despite the sizeable fall, March 2018 is still the fourth biggest on record for new vehicle numbers.

According to the SMMT, "political uncertainty and confusion over air quality plans" has continued to affect consumer confidence, which it claims has contributed to the declining sales figures.

Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell in March, down 14.3 per cent, 15 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively.

The number of new diesel cars registered for sale in the United Kingdom has continued to decline, figures published by the motor industry today (5 April) have suggested.

Just 153,594 new diesels were registered in the United Kingdom last month, compared to 244,593 in March 2017, according to data released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

As March is traditionally a busy month for the industry courtesy of the number plate change, the continuing decline in diesel numbers indicates the industry's attempts at assuring consumers that there is a future for the fuel are failing.

Registrations of plug-in and hybrid vehicles continued to rise, albeit modestly, up 5.7%, with demand for plug-in hybrids driving growth, up 18.2% for the month.

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Diesel vehicles are known to emit lower levels of Carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles, thus helping to reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and have therefore enjoyed favourable taxation rates compared to petrol cars.

Hawes added that the government should incentivise drivers to have new cars rather than retain older models.

In the first quarter of this year 146,614 of these vehicles hit British roads, an increase of 2.7%, as the inclement weather appeared to lead to a boost in registrations.

Including private registrations, the market fell by nearly 16%, with 474,069 cars registered compared to 562,337 units previous year.

The UK new auto market is a vital part of the UK economy and is often seen as a barometer of consumer and business confidence. Some 200,000 people are employed in new vehicle retail alone, while UK-based auto finance firms employ over 45,000 more, with an annual £12.5 billion economic contribution.

So-called "alternatively fuelled vehicles" now hold a five per cent market share in the United Kingdom, according to SMMT.

Sandy Burgess, the SMTA chief executive, said: "We have experienced a dramatic drop-off in registrations year-on-year of nearly 21 per cent..."

"Consumer and business confidence, however, has taken a knock in recent months and a thriving new auto market is essential to the overall health of our economy".

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