New car sales 2019: growing demand for hybrids and EVs fail to stop falling registrations

Hybrids, plug-ins and electric cars grow in popularity, but new-car market can't shake off decline

November 2019 saw a further dip in new-car registrations, with 158,639 new models finding homes, down 2,018 (1.3 per cent) on the same month last year. That fall is significantly less pronounced than October, however, when the market was down 6.7 per cent.

Last month’s registration figures, compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), echo themes that appear deep-rooted in UK vehicle sales: the popularity of diesel fell (by 27.2 per cent compared to November 2018) along with total private registrations (which dropped 6.1 per cent), as fleet sales remain largely stable (up 2.8 per cent in November, and 0.3 per cent year-to-date.)

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The outgoing Vauxhall Corsa was the UK’s best-selling new car last month, with 4,296 examples finding homes. Ford’s Kuga SUV was second, with 4,183 registrations, while new Fiestas ended up on 3,963 driveways and parking spaces, earning it a bronze sales medal.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “These are challenging times for the UK new car market, with another fall in November reflecting the current climate of uncertainty. It’s good news, however, to see registrations of electrified cars surging again, and 2020 will see manufacturers introduce plenty of new, exciting models to give buyers even more choice.

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“Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go for these vehicles to become mainstream and, to grow uptake further, we need fiscal incentives, investment in charging infrastructure and a more confident consumer.”

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