UK new car registrations in 2019 fall to six-year low

UK new car sales fell to a six-year low in 2019 down -2.4% to 2.3m units, according to figures from the SMMT.

The market was hit by a freefall in demand for diesel cars with registrations for the year down -21.8% , the 33rd month of diesel decline. Sales of petrol vehicles rose 2.2%.

AFV registrations surged in 2019 to take a record 7.4% market share. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) continued to dominate this sector, with registrations increasing 17.1% to 97,850 units.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations experienced the biggest percentage growth – from a low base – rising +144.0% to 37,850 units and overtaking plug-in hybrids for the first time. BEV vehicles however account for just 1.6% of the market.

The annual decline was driven primarily by falling private demand, with registrations from consumers down -3.2%, while the small volume business market also fell, down -34.4%. Fleet registrations were stable, up 0.8%.

The figures come as SMMT publishes data showing the UK new car fleet average CO2 rose for a third successive year, by +2.7% to 127.9g/km.

Vehicles are more efficient than in the past but changes in the WLTP test mean they get higher ratings while declining sales of diesel vehicles have also had an impact.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “A third year of decline for the UK new car market is a significant concern for industry and the wider economy. Political and economic uncertainty, and confusing messages on clean air zones have taken their toll on buyer confidence, with demand for new cars at a six-year low.”

[source: Motor Trader online]