New car sales down, emissions up in expected 2019 figures

Registration figures likely to show a seven-year low, while average CO2 emissions expected to show an increase

New car registration figures for 2019 are expected to show a drop of around 2.3 per cent when they’re released later this morning. 

With a total likely to be around 2.33million, 2019 will be the worst year for new car registrations since 2013, in spite of the month of December expected to show a year-on-year increase.

• Best selling cars in the UK

Diesel cars are likely to be the biggest losers, with a drop expected of around 21.8 per cent meaning diesels now account for around a quarter of all new car registrations. 

However, AFVs (Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles) including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles are expected to show big increases in registrations, up just over 20 per cent. The bulk of those sales will be hybrid models with an increase expected of over 17 per cent.

The biggest number, though, is likely to be the increase in fully electric vehicles with a sales jump around 144 per cent. That will still only account for around 1.6 per cent of the market, though, some way short of government targets.

In spite of the jump in AFVs, the market shift away from low CO2 diesel cars is likely to show a rise in average CO2 emissions – just as tight average CO2 targets for car makers come into effect. The average figure for all cars sold in the UK is expected to be just under 130g/km, which would equate to a 2.7 per cent increase. This year sees the introduction of an EU average target of 95g/km that manufacturers must meet, or risk sizeable fines.

Superminis and small family cars are expected to still make up more than half of all registrations, but will also have shown drops in sales. Only two categories – dual purpose (large 4x4s) and specialist sports cars (which includes Tesla, which finally brought its Model 3 to the UK last year) – are expected to show increases in 2019.

Speaking about the expected figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The same factors apply as they have done for a while. Consumer confidence is weak, while there’s confusion over clean air zones and diesel cars.” 

However, 2020 could prove to be better, depending on the political situation. “We saw a greater degree of confidence post-election,” said Hawes,. “With more confidence there could be an improvement to the market.”

However, Hawes warned that uncertainty would remain until a trade deal had been finalised. For that reason, the 2020 outlook would be for another decline of around 1.6 per cent meaning a total of around 2.27 million units.

Do you think new car sales will improve in 2020? Let us know your thoughts below…

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