New car registrations improve in April 2018

April new car sales recovery fails to lift industry gloom

New car registrations improve in April 2018New car registrations staged a recovery in April 2018, reports the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – but only thanks to a disastrous performance in April 2017 following the roll-out of controversial new road tax legislation.

Despite the improvement in the headline figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes warned that “it’s important not to look at one month in isolation and, given the major disruption to last April’s market caused by sweeping VED changes, this increase is not unexpected.”

Sales were up 10.4 percent, with 167,911 new cars registered. Other factors helping the year-on-year growth include Easter falling earlier in 2018, giving two extra selling days, and bad weather in March pushing some new car deliveries into April.

Year-to-date new car sales are still down though, by a significant 8.8 percent. 

What’s more, the breakdown of the new car sales figures shows the demonisation of diesel continues. Petrol registrations were up 38.5 percent; diesel was down 24.9 percent. Petrol thus now accounted for 63.8 percent of all new cars registered in April, a shocking increase over the 50.9 percent in 2017.

Diesel has plunged from 45 percent to just over 30 percent.

Plug-in hybrid and electric cars were up too, by almost half, but this is still from a very low base – they make up just 5.6 percent of new car sales.

“While the continuing growth in demand for plug-in and hybrid cars is positive news, the market share of these vehicles remains low and will do little to offset damaging declines elsewhere,” said Hawes.

Once again, he called for the government to take action to reassure people. “Consumers need certainty about future policies towards different fuel types, including diesel, and a compelling package of incentives to deliver long-term confidence in the newest technologies.”

Top 10 best selling cars: April 2018

2018 Ford Fiesta Vignale

1: Ford Fiesta

2: Volkswagen Golf

3: Nissan Qashqai

4: Ford Focus

5: Volkswagen Polo

6: Ford Kuga

7: Vauxhall Mokka X

8: Vauxhall Corsa

9: Mercedes-Benz A-Class

10: Mercedes-Benz C-Class