New Car Sales Down For the Seventh Month in a Row

With Diesel vehicles feeling the brunt of the decline

Figures released from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for October have indicated a 7th month of decline in new car sales in the UK when compared to the previous year. 

Sales were down a massive 12% when compared to October 2016, meaning the total number of vehicles sold this year so far is now 4.6% behind the year-to-date total this time last year.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, stated: "Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel," 

"We urge the government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low emission vehicles as fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns."

Sales breakdown

Diesel’s share of the new car sale in the UK has dropped by 10% now for this year, sitting at just 39.4% of all vehicles sold in October, which is only the second time that diesel’s share of the total vehicles sold has dropped below 40% since 2009. 

Encouragingly, the sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles are up 41% over the last 12 months, from 16,000 vehicles sold to 22,000 vehicles sold.

Here’s how this October compared to the same period each year from 2000 to 2017…

What’s caused all this?

Good question, a number of things, we believe.

Firstly, the international movement toward banning diesel cars from places like Madrid, Paris and (potentially) Oxford has evidently disturbed prospective buyers who want to know what they’re signing up for before committing to a finance deal.

Secondly, the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty have clearly had some effect on car sales as the switchover from the previous rates to the current rates (on April the 1st) correlates with the downward trend. There is an argument that a small percent of consumers who were due to upgrade their car for a new one will have seen the increases in ‘road tax’ and decided to stick with their current vehicle for longer to avoid paying more tax. This could be up to £500 a year extra if the car's value is in excess of £40,000.

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