Press release

SMMT new car registrations | July 2019

Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, provides his view on the latest new car registrations from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

While the figures show a 4.1% drop, these numbers don’t give a real representation of the market. The best way to describe it is, it’s like a calm swan on the surface but actually there’s been a furious amount of peddling by retailers and manufacturers just to get us here.

For one, the Real-world Driving Emissions (RDE) test deadline is in September which means vehicles that exceed emissions under the new rules can’t be sold as new cars after September. To help alleviate this, there has almost certainly been a high volume of stock which has been self-registered by retailers – and not actually sold to consumers. Although self-registrations are common practice to achieve retailer targets, dampened demand and these added stock pressures have made the task of reaching those targets even more of a battle than normal.

Brexit has a part to play too. The falling value of the pound either increases the imported prices of cars or directly reduces the profitability of around nine in 10 cars sold in the UK. So while retailers and manufacturers try to entice consumers with very strong offers, particularly to push out older stocks, these sales are increasing costly for them. Judging by the volatility of recent sales numbers, with some brands faring well but several others now well behind prior year, it’s clear that manufacturers face a decision about how sustainable such sales “push” can be in the longer term.

What now seems like a blip in AFV sales in June, the industry’s investment in electric vehicles is starting to reap the rewards now. While the availability and delivery lead times of some EVs is far from ideal on certain models, consumers’ appetite for these cars is high and registration figures are rising. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must continue to incentivise and push these vehicles so that we can reach the ‘Road to Zero’ on time.

It’s clearly not all doom and gloom for the industry though. Despite the challenges thrown at UK car buyers, they remain resilient and still as keen to regularly renew their cars. It’s precisely this type of accelerated renewal of the car parc towards cleaner engines which is crucial to our chances of significantly improving air quality. More broadly, we know that overall consumer appetite remains strong, with 141 million searches taking place across our site last month alone, which compares to 134 million last year. Consumers in the UK are still looking for cars but they are getting savvier and looking for the best deal, particularly in this time of economic uncertainty.

We're excited to announce that, as of 1st July, we'll be powering the used car pages on @whatcar and its sister site, @autocar. https://t.co/H4GJLafkh7
We're excited to announce that, as of 1st July, we'll be powering the used car pages on @whatcar and its sister site, @autocar. https://t.co/H4GJLafkh7
What are the three big barriers to electric vehicle adoption and how can we as an industry help to overcome them? Find out in the latest edition of The Road to 2030 report 👉https://t.co/ho4cNqeUsQ https://t.co/qlA2IX6EiF
Are you getting the basics right? Find out in this week's tip of the week where @AndrewKorpela highlights the need to maintain your digital best practises. https://t.co/Rkm0nKu19B
One of the most recent entrants to the EV market, the @CUPRA Born, is currently seeing the most advert views of any new EV on our marketplace. With a new EV model set to enter the market every 10 days this year, what model do you think we'll see make the list? https://t.co/nOcF7YguLg
We've been working with manufacturers to get you access to the specification profile for each car and we're excited to announce that this is now available to retailers, helping you to make creating high-quality adverts easier than ever. Find out more 👇 https://t.co/lv2kLf4E77
After a slight technical glitch @therickw is live and sharing our latest market data. Demand has seen a decline but used car prices remain robust. https://t.co/lSNLB6rLrg
Over now to @MarcThornboroug who asks "is it time to reset your goals"? Last year's performance was incredibly strong across the market, being very much a seller's market. But in recent weeks we have seen it start to shift towards a buyers market. https://t.co/BVEiBdl9Dy
We're kicking off today's webinar with @marc_palmer. Right now the economy is the top issue for many people with the cost of living crisis in full swing and the spectre of a recession looming. But what does this mean for car sales? Read the thread to find out 👇 https://t.co/ZMErCURxJU

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