New car registrations down almost 20% in April, after record-breaking March
The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that new car registrations fell by –19.8% in April, with 152,076 units registered in total.
After a record-breaking March, the decline was expected, as the market feels the effect of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) changes and negative publicity.
Demand was down across the board last month with private buyers, businesses and fleet registrations falling –28.4%, –21% and –12.3% respectively. April also marked the first downturn (of -1.3%) of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) in 46 months – likely due to the fact hybrid cars are no longer tax free.
The biggest decline however comes from diesel, which was down a whole –27.3%. It’s not entirely surprising given its bad press of late, with many people holding off choosing one until the government confirms its plan to improve local air pollution in cities.
April new car registrations – year-on year
Despite the substantial falls in the month, the overall new car market remains strong in the year to date, with new registrations in the first four months up 1.1% year-on-year to 972,092 – the highest level on record.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, commented: “It’s important to note that the market remains at record levels as customers still see many benefits in purchasing a new car. We therefore expect demand to stabilise over the year as the turbulence created by these tax changes decreases.”
The market place
Compared to private and business buyers, the fleet market (which includes personal contract hire) declined the least, with 86,768 fleet registrations in April, compared to just 59,912 private registrations. Lauren Pamma, head of fleet consultancy at Lex Autolease, says the slowdown in fleet registrations last month was no surprise.
She commented: “It’s encouraging that fleet and business registrations still account for more than half the total. The strong figures in March were partly due to businesses pulling forward vehicle procurement ahead of changes to Vehicle Excise Duty which came into force on 1 April.”
With a record-breaking start to the year, there’s no surprise that our list of the top ten most popular cars hasn’t really seen much change, but last month itself actually brought about a few surprises…
Both the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and C-Class stole third and second place from the usual suspects – Ford’s Fiesta and Volkswagen’s Golf.
The best-seller list
What’s more, despite the aging Ford Fiesta remaining the most popular car in April, its Vauxhall-badged Corsa nemesis didn’t even make it into the top ten.
Here’s the top ten in full…
Year to date
1. Ford Fiesta – 4,957
1. Ford Fiesta – 43,162
2. Nissan Qashqai – 4,430
2. Ford Focus – 27,307
3. Mercedes C-Class – 3,777
3. Vauxhall Corsa – 23,765
4. Mercedes A-Class – 3,608
4. Nissan Qashqai – 23,501
5. Ford Focus – 4,321
5. Volkswagen Golf – 22,446
6. Vauxhall Astra – 3,346
6. Vauxhall Astra – 21,261
7. Volkswagen Golf – 3,223
7. Mercedes C Class – 19,238
8. Audi A3 – 3,000
8. Volkswagen Polo – 18,253
9. Volkswagen Polo – 2,800
9. Mercedes A Class – 15,855
10. BMW 1 Series – 2,750
10. Mini– 15,417