UK car registrations fall 5.7% in 2017  05 | 01 | 2018

    REGISTRATIONS OF NEW cars in the UK have fallen for the first time in six years, with annual sales in 2017 falling 5.7% to 2.54 million units. The drop has been blamed on falling consumer confidence, worsening exchange rates and concerns over the future of diesel according to industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

    As we know, and has been well documented, diesel registrations plummeted dramatically in the final half of 2017. In December they fell 31.1% year-on-year (against an overall year-on-year decline in registrations of 14.4% in December). Across the whole of 2017, diesel sales fell 17.1% year-on-year. By contrast, registrations of petrol cars in 2017 grew marginally by 2.7%.


    Private registrations fell by 6.8%, with fleet registrations down 4.5% and business registrations falling by 7.8%.

    Though the overall 2017 sales figure fell, it still rates as the the third largest registrations year in a decade and the sixth best since records started in the 1950s. It also follows a hugely successful year in 2016.

    “We must keep perspective: this is not the industry falling off a cliff edge it is a retraction from exceptional highs in the face of significant challenges,”  Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said. He also predicted a further fall of 5-7% over the course of 2018.


    “The decline in the new car market is concerning, but it’s important to remember demand remains at historically high levels. More than 2.5 million people drove away in a new car last year, benefitting from the latest, safest, cleanest and most fuel efficient technology.

    “Falling business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly taking a toll however, and confusing anti-diesel messages have caused many to hesitate before buying a new low emission diesel car.


    “Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals. Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.

    “2017 has undoubtedly been a very volatile year and the lacklustre economic growth means that we expect a further weakening in the market for 2018. The upside for consumers, however, is some very, very competitive deals.”


    Despite the overall decline, new car registrations remain high, with the market still the second biggest in the EU, behind Germany. It is also one of the most diverse, with consumers able to choose from 350 different models available in fuel types and body styles to suit all lifestyles, and on attractive finance terms.

    Meanwhile, around 60 new models — including 26 brand new models and 33 model updates — are set to make showroom debuts in 2018. These will all include exciting next generation technology, including systems that take over the driving in traffic jams, to those that detect potential collisions with pedestrians in day and night-time driving.

    Related: Scrappage schemes extended into 2018

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    Jim McGill


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