UK car market dips almost 10% in July

Discovery Sport

The UK new car market saw its fourth consecutive monthly decline in July, with registrations falling 9.3% compared to July last year.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 161,997 new cars were registered in the month as the market continued to react to faltering consumer confidence in the wake of Brexit and ongoing economic uncertainty.

Nevertheless, the fall was in line with forecasts.

Demand was down across business, fleet and private buyers – with corresponding falls of 23.8%, 10.1% and 6.8%. Elsewhere, in the month more buyers opted for dual purpose and specialist sports cars – the only two vehicle segments to enjoy growth of 7.3% and 10.3% respectively.

However, not all manufacturers saw a decline.

There were mixed fortunes for Jaguar Land Rover with Jaguar registrations down 16.7% on the month but Land Rover held sway with a near 8% increase.

Elsewhere, Aston Martin was up 88% on the same month last year, selling 84 cars against the 45 in July 2016. For BMW – always popular with fleet buyers – registrations were down 6.35%.

Ford maintained its leading market share at 10.45% – still the only manufacturer in double digits. However, long-time rival Vauxhall continued its dramatic fall from grace, with registrations down a staggered 41% on last year as buyers reacted to GM’s decision to sell the brand.

The demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued its rise, up 64.9% as consumers looked to invest in the latest low-emission fuel technology. AFVs took a new record 5.5% market share in July, as 8,871 new units were driven off forecourts. Nearly 70,000 new AFVs have joined UK roads this year.

Meanwhile registrations for new petrol and diesel cars declined by 3% and 20.1% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock-on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit.

“While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for AFVs, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans. It is important to remember that there are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 models and no proposed bans for conventional petrol and diesel vehicles for some 23 years.

“The lower demand in recent months will inevitably mean competition from manufacturers will intensify and it will be a good opportunity for consumers to get a great deal on their next car, with many exciting new models launched in the coming months.”