UK new car registrations fall again in May

Image of James Kelly
Author: | Updated: 05 Jun 2019 12:15

New car numbers declined –4.6% in May, with continued uncertainty over diesel and underlying economic and political instability hitting consumer and business confidence.

Ford Fiesta

183,724 new cars were registered in total according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ (SMMT) latest figures, with declines being recorded across all sales types. Private registrations fell –5%, fleets by –3% and business by –29%.

Falls were seen across most vehicle segments too, although executive and dual purpose vehicles bucked the trend, growing 9.1% and 16% respectively. Overall, superminis and small family cars remained the most popular type of car, taking a combined 56.3% of the market.

May registrations-2003-to-2019

Demand for petrol and alternatively fuelled vehicles actually grew by 1% and 11.7% respectively, although this was not enough to offset the continuing decline in diesel, for which demand fell for the 26th consecutive month.

The SMMT says that anti-diesel sentiment and the forthcoming introduction of low emission zones is affecting consumer confidence, despite the fact that diesels are safer and cleaner than they have ever been and will not be subject to the upcoming changes.

Meanwhile, petrol electric hybrids experienced increased demand, up 34.6% to 7,785 units. Battery electric cars also recorded a significant rise of 81.1% yet this segment still only represents 0.6% of the overall market.

May registrations 2019

However, plug-in hybrids experienced another substantial decline, down -40.6% in May and -25.1% year-to-date. This compares with a 36.2% increase in the first five months of 2018 and is further evidence of the removal of the purchase incentive for PHEVs.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, commented: “Confusing policy messages and changes to incentives continue to affect consumer and business confidence, causing drivers to keep hold of their older, more polluting vehicles for longer.

As for the cars themselves, the top ten remains by and large the same, while the Focus has edged its way past the Golf for the year-to-date. The A-Class remains a popular choice, remaining in fifth position for both May and in the year to date so far.

May registrations best sellers 2019

Hawes said: “New cars are safer, cleaner and more advanced than ever and, with sophisticated safety, efficiency and comfort features as well as a host of attractive deals on offer, there has never been a better time to invest in a new car.”

More SMMT industry news here

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