Low consumer demand leads significant drop in private sales in first month of 2020; diesel sees weakest performance since 2000
New car registrations declined meaningfully in January, with 149,279 new cars leaving showrooms last month, down 7.3 per cent compared to the same month last year, when 161,013 new cars found homes.
Low consumer demand was one of the main drivers behind January’s decline, with private registrations falling 13.9 per cent year-on-year, from 71,686 to 61,717. Fleet demand also fell 2.2 per cent, while business sales were up 4.2 per cent, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
• Best new cars for 2020
Another key factor in the overall decline was the ill favour of diesel cars, registrations of which were down 36 per cent to 29,605, marking its 34th month of decline and its worst performance since the year 2000. Registrations of new petrol cars also took a hit, falling 9.5 per cent year-on-year, from 101,444 to 91,836.
Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) – hybrids and EVs – continued to see a rise in sales – registrations of hybrids were up 20.6 per cent, plug-in hybrids up 111.1 per cent, and fully electric vehicle registrations more than doubled, increasing in popularity by 203.9 per cent. Combined, AFVs made up 11.9 per cent of the market in January – up 6.8 per cent year-on-year.
The figures follow the Government’s announcement that all new petrol and diesel cars and vans – including hybrids and plug-in hybrids – will be banned from sale in 2035, meaning drivers wanting to purchase a new car will have no choice but to opt for an all-electric model. These made up a mere 2.7 per cent of the new car market share in 2019.
The SMMT used its monthly release of registration data to again highlight concerns that the 2035 deadline was “extremely challenging”, calling on the Government to pledge a long-term commitment to the Plug-in Car Grant – which is currently scheduled to end in March – and extend it to apply to all AFVs, even those being banned from new sale in 2035.
• Best car dealers
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “The new car market is a key driver of the UK’s overall economy, so another month of decline is unsettling.
“Consumer confidence is not returning to the market and will not be helped by Government’s decision to add further confusion and instability by moving the goalposts on the end of sale of internal combustion engine cars. While ambition is understandable, as we must address climate change and air quality concerns, blanket bans do not help short-term consumer confidence.
“To be successful, Government must lead the transition with an extensive and appropriately funded package of fiscal incentives, policies and investment to drive demand. We want to deliver air quality and environmental improvements now, but need a strong market to do so.”
Click here to find out the best car leasing deals right now…