Auto Trader's Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, provides his view on the latest new car registrations from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
“New car registration figures for November don’t come as a huge surprise; it’s a continuation of the trend that we’ve seen in recent months, but it does highlight the significant challenges facing the UK car retail market.
“Manufacturers are coming up against unprecedented cost hurdles as they take the journey towards the electrification of their fleet and also fight to hit the stringent new CO2 emissions regulations next year. Some of the biggest industry stalwarts have recently announced job losses as they look to refocus their businesses to deal with these issues. Compounding that, issues caused by Brexit continue to hinder the industry too; the unsteady value of the pound, consumer uncertainty and the ambiguity around future trading regulations only serve to amplify the enormous pressure manufacturers are under. And in the short term, both the manufacturers and their franchised retailers, still have ambitious targets to meet to reach despite these wider economic challenges.
“Brexit, and now the election, is also further dampening consumer buying confidence, making it ever-harder to sell cars. Moving into December, manufacturers and retailers will be pushing hard to try and encourage consumers to buy so that they can reach vital year-end targets, to close out what has certainly been a challenging 2019 for brands, retailers and consumers alike. So it’s imperative that whoever is in power after the general election moves things forward quickly offering clarity to both consumers and industry alike, and some much needed stability.
“While the new car registrations reflect a challenging time for manufacturers and retailers, the positive story is the increasing uptake in electric vehicles. Growth in EVs - both new and used - is gaining pace and as more consumers buy these cars we are closing the gap on the Road to Zero. Consumer demand is certainly there – buyers want to make the move towards cleaner cars. Although the biggest challenge we face seems much more linked to supply-side factors, it feels as is if we’re not far from a tipping point where different model choices are broader, availability of EVs for delivery is far quicker, and charging infrastructure is readily available.”