New car registrations fell by 11.5% in January, going down to 128,811 units, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The decline was in line with SMMT’s forecast and reflects, at least in part, the loss of the Scrappage Incentive Scheme.
Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: “This marks the beginning of a challenging year for the UK motor industry. Consumer confidence is low and it is important that government uses the March Budget to help relieve some of the financial pressure on motorists by freezing fuel duty, while providing stability and certainty on motoring taxes.”
The demand for low-emitting and highly fuel efficient vehicles is on the rise, however. The market share for cars with CO2 emissions under 100g/km rose by over 65 per cent in January, with the average new car CO2 emissions at 141.5g/km, compared with an average 144.2g/km last year.
Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate, commented on the figures: “New car registrations for January set off in line with expectations and many of the dealers we support are more optimistic than may be expected in the light of recent negative news flow. However, today’s figures don’t accurately reflect this as the numbers are still being distorted by the Government’s scrappage scheme which won’t wash out of the system until April.”
David Raistrick, UK manufacturing leader at Deloitte, said: “Today’s figures are disappointing but not surprising. This time last year, the scrappage scheme was in place so we are not really comparing like with like. This year will be tough for motor manufacturers. We do not expect sales to go beyond 1.9 million and they may struggle even to reach 1.85 million, which would be one of the lowest new vehicle sales years in the last decade. Public sector buying is reducing and private consumers are keeping their cars for longer.”