New car registrations decline for eighth consecutive month

The UK new car market has seen its eighth consecutive monthly fall as new vehicle registrations fell by more than 11% in November.

The consequences were especially dire for diesel powered cars, with demand declining almost 31%.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show new car demand fell 11.2% last month to 163,541 units.

While there were increases in demand for petrol and alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFVs), these failed to offset heavy losses for diesel-powered cars, which saw a fall of 30.6%.

For the year-to-date, new registrations were down 5%, which is in line with expectations.

The SMMT said business, fleet and private registrations all fell in the month, down 33.6%, 14.4% and 5.1% respectively.

Registrations fell across all body types except specialist sports, which grew 6.7%. The biggest declines were seen in the executive and mini segments, which decreased 22.2% and 19.8% respectively, while demand in the supermini segment contracted by 15.4%.

The AFV sector bucked the trend by continuing to make significant gains, growing 33.1%, as the backlash against diesel emissions continued.
Petrol cars also saw a gain, though of a more modest 5%.

The SMMT said the drop in diesel registrations followed follows months of confusion and speculation about the government’s air quality plans and its policies towards diesel cars.

In the 11 months to date, 2,388,144 new cars have been registered across Britain (2016: 2,514,764).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “An eighth month of decline in the new car market is a major concern, with falling business and consumer confidence exacerbated by ongoing anti-diesel messages from government.

“Diesel remains the right choice for many drivers, not least because of its fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. The decision to tax the latest low emission diesels is a step backwards and will only discourage drivers from trading in their older, more polluting cars.

“Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality, penalising the latest, cleanest diesels is counterproductive and will have detrimental environmental and economic consequences.”