New auto sales in the United Kingdom dropped 5.7 percent in 2017 and are projected to fall even further in 2018, according to the industry body, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The SMMT said new auto registrations fell 5.7 percent in 2017 to 2,540,617 units, the first decline in six years and biggest since 2009. It claimed diesel auto demand dropped 17 percent, just as private, fleet and business registrations were all down in 2017, with demand from private motorists declining 6.8 percent, while fleets saw a fall of 4.5 percent.
Diesel registrations saw a 17.1 percent decline in 2017 as consumers switched to petrol vehicles, which went up 2.7 percent and from a low base, demand for armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) went up 34.8 percent.
New cars averaged 121.04g/km, edging up 0.8 percent on 2016 level as more than 2.5 million people drove away in a new auto in the past year, benefitting from the latest, safest, cleanest and most fuel-efficient technology.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT, said that 2017 had been a “very volatile year” and further warned that the vehicle market could weaken more this year.
Hawes also noted that for many drivers diesel was still “the best bet because they can save a lot of money and indeed have a lower C02 emission”, adding that keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals.
“Fleet renewal is the fastest way to lower our carbon emissions and improve air quality and consumers should buy the right auto for their driving needs,” he stressed.
The carmaker, Jeep saw the most dramatic year-on-year drop in new car sales last year being down by 54.7 percent. It was followed by DS Automobiles, which was down by 42.9 percent on the previous year’s figure of 15,898.
Fellow Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brand, Fiat saw the third-largest reduction in sales, with registrations down by 26.6 percent last year. Subaru was close behind with a 25.8 percent drop in new car registrations in 2017, and in fifth place, Vauxhall’s new car registrations dropped by a dramatic 22.2 percent in 2017.
However, Ford remained at the top of the table for sales but dropped by 9.7 percent in registration. Volkswagen overtook Vauxhall to become the second-biggest selling car maker – recording a 0.7 per cent increase in registrations.
Meanwhile, German automaker, Mercedes-Benz also saw new car registrations increase by 6.6 percent in 2017, from 169,828 to 180,970.
Yet, it was the British supercar brands that enjoyed the most dramatic increase in sales last year, though. McLaren went up 3,050 percent and Aston Martin saw new car registrations in the UK increase by 62.4 percent.
According to SMMT, despite the decline in car registrations, car demand remained highest at 2017 in a decade.
“It is important to put this into context – this is about the sixth biggest year ever and third best in the last decade, coming off a record 2015 and 2016, so the market is still a record high. The decline is definitely cause for concern, though,’ Hawes said.
Analysts are of the opinion that the decline was due to certain factors, which include consumer confidence, rising car prices and uncertainty over fuel choice leading to a fall in diesel sales.