UK: New car market down 6.7 percent in October

A Rolls Royce Ghost gets its final finish polish at the Rolls Royce Motor Cars factory at Goodwood near Chichester in southern England [Luke MacGregor/Reuters]

Demand for new cars in the United Kingdom fell 6.7 percent last month, the automotive industry said.

Some 10,348 fewer cars were registered in October than during the same month in 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figure reflects a tough environment for businesses and consumers as economic and political uncertainty continue to hit confidence, the trade association said.

The decline was driven by a 13.2 percent drop in demand from private consumers.

Sales of diesel models were down 28.3 percent, while petrol cars fell by 3.2 percent.

Alternatively, fuelled cars such as hybrids and battery electrics took a market share of 9.9 percent, which is the highest on record.

Year-to-date figures shows that the new car market declined 2.9 percent during the first 10 months of the year compared with 2018.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies.

“The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline.

“Whether the General Election delivers a bounce to the economy remains to be seen, but with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra-low and zero-emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.”

Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website, said: “The UK car industry will surely look back at 2019 as one of its gloomiest on record.

“It’s unlikely new car sales are going to pick up materially before the end of the year, with consumers also now having a General Election to get their heads around.

“All the market can hope for is that the perceived disaster of a no-deal [Brexit] has been averted.”