United Kingdom auto sales fall for the second year in a row

Lloyd Doyle
January 9, 2019

Petrol-electric hybrids remained the most popular choice, up +21.3% to 81,156 units.

Private, fleet and business registrations all fell in 2018, with the biggest losses felt in the fleet sector (down 7.3%).

Monthly figures for December have also been released, showing an overall 5.5% market decline year-on-year.

The average amount emitted by new cars in the United Kingdom in 2018 rose by around 3% year-on-year.

Diesel registrations fell 30% as new auto buyers switched to petrol, hybrid and electric vehicles over uncertainty on the Government's future tax plans.

Demand for PHEVs grew nearly 30 per cent in the first 10 months, but year-on-year increases fell to 3.1 per cent and 8.7 per cent in November and December respectively.

Diesels are, on average, 15-20 per cent more efficient than petrol equivalents and so have a substantial role to play in addressing climate change.

However, the move away from diesel cars contributed to a 3% rise in the average emissions of Carbon dioxide by new cars past year.


The increase in Carbon dioxide will not only impact on carmakers trying to meet emission targets but will also have an impact on government climate change targets.

Tough new WLTP emissions tests, uncertainty around diesel legislation and Brexit have all contributed to the reduction in new cars being bought over the last 12 months - the second year of falling sales.

The rise in petrol sales and drop in diesel means the average Carbon dioxide emissions of new cars sold in Britain in 2018 rose just under 3 percent, posing a headache for automakers who need to reduce levels to meet stricter regulations.

While demand for new cars fell in 2018, the SMMT reports that the market remains solid, with volumes on a part with the rolling 15-year average, while the United Kingdom new vehicle market remains the second highest in the European Union - behind Germany. It is also one of the most diverse, with buyers able to choose from some 350 different models available in fuel types and body styles to suit all driving needs. "But they can't do it all on their own - they need support from the Government to encourage more new vehicle purchases and allow the industry to thrive this year".

British new vehicle sales in 2018 fell at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago, hit by the collapse in demand for diesel, as the industry body warned of the existential threat to the sector posed by Brexit.

The German supermarket giant's British arm, the country's fifth-largest grocery chain, said the week beginning 17 December was the busiest in its history, with sales up 10% on previous year.

"Although CO2 emissions increased for a second year, more people are buying battery electric vehicles, and whilst these vehicles continue to be a small percentage of overall sales, this is increasing as the technology becomes better known and range anxiety decreases".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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