New car registrations declined 4.1 percent in April 2019, reports the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), due to a plunge in private buyer demand of more than 10 percent.
Fleet car sales were actually up 2.9 percent, but this was not enough to stop last month being the second-worst April for registrations since 2012.
April’s figures follow a 3.4 percent decline in registrations for the key registration-plate change month of March, a fall SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said was “of clear concern“.
Last month’s surprise was not the overall decline, but the scale of changes happening within car sectors. Britain’s best-selling car type is the supermini, such as the Ford Fiesta – and volumes in this sector were down 14.1 percent. Small family cars, such as the Ford Focus, were also down over 10 percent.
SUVs, meanwhile recorded 18.4 percent GROWTH last month, to well over 40,000 new models from overall monthly sales of 161,064 new cars.
The SUV is now Britain’s third most popular car type, and the sector has tripled in size since 2012.
Sales of alternative fuel cars (AFV) were up 12.7 percent last month, with petrol electric hybrids shooting up by almost a third. In total, 10,254 future-fuel AFVs were sold last month: almost 7,000 of them were petrol hybrids.
Pure electric car sales also grew to over 1,500 units, or just under one percent of the new car market.
However, plug-in hybrid sales plunged last month, by over 34 percent. Year to date, they are down over 20 percent. The SMMT says this is almost entirely down to the government’s decision to prematurely cut back the Plug-in Car Grant, restricting it to pure electric cars.
While it’s great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, “they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero.
“We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers. This includes investment in infrastructure and long-term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”
Sales of diesel cars were down 9.4 percent, although the SMMT notes the pace of decline is slowing. Petrol was down three percent; the fuel now accounts for more than two in three new car sales in Britain.
April 2019: Top 10 best-selling cars
1: Ford Fiesta
2: Ford Focus
3: Volkswagen Golf
4: Nissan Qashqai
5: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
6: Ford Kuga
7: Volkswagen Polo
8: Volkswagen Tiguan
9: Vauxhall Corsa
10: Hyundai Tucson