New car sales 2019: registrations fall 6.7% despite surge in electric cars and hybrids

Number of new cars sold in October down on 2018; diesel registrations drop 28.3%; one in 10 new cars now alternatively fuelled

The UK’s new-car market suffered a significant decline last month, with 6.7 per cent fewer registrations than in October 2018.

A total of 143,251 new cars were registered last month, down from 153,599 in October last year. A drop in private sales drove the majority of that fall, with 13.2 per cent fewer individual buyers signing on the dotted line as consumer confidence continues to plateau – though fleet sales remained stable, rising 0.3 per cent.

• Best-selling cars in the UK 2019

October also saw a crystallisation of recent market trends. Diesel fell for the 31st consecutive month, with 28.3 per cent fewer oil burners registered compared to 2018, and diesel cars now making up 24.2 per cent of the market. Petrol registrations fell by 3.2 per cent last month, though for the year-to-date 65.2 per cent of all new cars run on unleaded, up from 61.9 per cent last year.

Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles were up significantly in October, driven by 3,162 pure electric cars being sold – a 151.8 per cent rise. EVs make up 1.4 per cent of all registrations in the year to date. Conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius were up 28.9 per cent, comprising 5.5 per cent of the new-car market. The market for plug-in hybrids dropped by 2.2 per cent, with 3,119 such cars being registered.

The monthly registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also show Sales of mild-hybrid (MHEV) diesel powertrains, such as those available with the new Range Rover Evoque, rose 378.1 per cent, with 3,251 such cars registered. MHEVs are not classified as alternatively fuelled vehicles in the SMMT’s figures, however, and rose from a low base of just 680 registrations in October 2018.

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Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT called the growth in AFV registrations “welcome”, though he warned “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.”

Click here to find out which car brands were the winners and losers in 2018…

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