May registrations key points
- UK new car demand falls 8.5% in the month with 186,265 cars registered.
- Buyers hold back ahead of June general election
- Alternatively fuelled vehicles rise 46.7% to take new record market share of 4.4%.
- Year-to-date performance dips slightly, down 0.6% as market stabilises
- More than 1.1 million new cars registered in Britain since January.
THE UK new car market declined again in May with a key factor the General Election keeping demand down, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The 8.5% decline is partly attributed to the continued effect of the new car vehicle excise duty (VED) changes effective from April 1 which brought a 20% slump in April registrations following an all-time record March, as well as this week’s election.
A total of 186,265 new cars were registered in the month, with business purchases up 20.1%, driving the market to offset declines from the bigger sectors of private (down 14%) and fleet buyers (down 5.3%).
Once again registration of diesel cars showed a significant drop, down 20% to 43.7% market share, against petrol up 0.4% in the reduced overall picture to hold 51.8% market share.
The market for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) which dipped slightly in April – attributed chiefly to the new VED rates that had broiught forward purchases – bounced back in May to continue the upward trend seen in the first quarter and take a new record market share of 4.4%.
More than 8,000 AFVs were registered in the month, representing an increase of 46.7% against May 2016. Almost 50,000 new AFVs have joined Britain’s roads so far this year.
Despite a dip of 0.6% in overall registrations since January, more than 1.1 million new cars have been registered on UK roads so far in 2017. Business and fleet sectors have driven demand, up 5.3% and 2.4% respectively to offset a decline from private buyers of 4.2%.
However, more than half a million new cars have been registered by private buyers since the start of the year.
Among the favourites the Ford Fiesta kept its place at the top of the charts pretty much reflecting the top ten year-to-date, but now with the refreshed VW Golf range up to second ahead of Nissan Qashqai topping the Ford Focus with the VW Polo in fifth.
Then come the Vauxhall Astra and Corsa while the Mercedes C-Class and A-Class sandwich MINI to complete the top ten.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “We expected demand in the new car market to remain negative in May due to the pull-forward to March – which was an all-time record month – resulting from VED reform.
“Added to this, the general election was always likely to give many pause for thought and affect purchasing patterns in the short term.
“Although demand has fallen, it’s important to remember that the market remains at a very high level and, with a raft of new models packed with the latest low emission and connected technology coming to market this summer, we expect the market to remain strong over the year.”