Press release

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders | 2018 new car registrations

Auto Trader's response to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' (SMMT) 2018 new car registrations and the health of the market

Despite what’s been a year of unprecedented challenges for the industry, 2018 closed in relatively good health. And whilst the same issues will still be felt during the months ahead, 2019 holds some  significant bright spots for retailers, manufacturers and consumers alike” said Ian Plummer, Auto Trader director.

“Brexit anxieties cast a long shadow last year and will continue to do so. A ‘no deal’ will likely impact new car sales as poor exchange rates and potential tariffs could force brands to pass on the cost to consumers. However, a smooth Brexit resulting in stable exchange rates and trade agreements, would signal to manufacturers that the UK remains a positive growth market with good profit opportunities, ensuring both a healthy pipeline of new stock and some great deals for consumers.

“Due to March’s highly desirable plate change, the first three months of the year represent almost a third of the industry’s total annual sales and are therefore key to a successful year for any brand or retailer. However, with Brexit looming, brands will be facing even greater pressure to hit the ground running in 2019 to offset any potential shortfall following the UK’s withdrawal of the EU. Coupled with the need to make up for the loss of sales following the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP) in September, there should be some great bargains for car buyers over the coming weeks.

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen some trends emerge which are set to accelerate in 2019, not least the growing consumer appetite for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) which has come largely at the expense of diesels. Mirroring their actual sales growth in the new car market, we saw AFVs reach a record seven percent of all fuel related searches on our marketplace in December. Similarly, the average price of a used AFV climbed to £20,828 in November, the highest rate recorded. 

We can expect this popularity to surge this year as a truly exciting array of second-generation electric vehicles hit the market in the coming months. Along with the continued trend towards crossovers and SUVs, which have been driving both the new and used car markets in 2018, they’ll provide brands with a much welcomed opportunity to offset last year’s sales deficits.

What’s more, as more consumers move away from traditional ownership to usership models, the appetite for finance will remain exceptionally strong in 2019. PCPs have fuelled market growth over the past years with 9 in 10 new cars sold now on finance. But leasing and subscription models are beginning to open up the market even more and have the potential to unlock further growth as they make accessing a car, including expensive new electric vehicles, an easier and more financially attractive option to a wider demographic of consumers.

“Looking at the coming year as a whole, we anticipate that the market will remain in relatively good health. However, as a result of the industry having to manage similar headwinds to last year, we can expect the market to decline at a very similar rate.”

After steadily increasing for 7 months, the average price of a used car reached an all-time high of £12,977 in Dec. Average diesel prices declined from a high of £14,661 in Oct. to £14,536, whilst petrol reached a record of £11,288. You can read more here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/UMAknC3frw
On an annual basis, the percentage of fuel related searches attributed to diesel have declined 40% since 2016, whilst searches for alternatively fuelled vehicles have shot up 130% and pure electric 179%. Get the full story here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/WcwRX0vf1b
The latest results from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index revealed that the average cost of a used car last year was £12,542; an annual increase of +5%. Second-hand diesels held their value, increasing +3%, whilst petrol grew +7%. You can read more here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/3o4PbNwElY
The FLA reports consumer finance declined -1% in November, reflecting a slowing market. In reality finance is fuelling sales & with prices steadily increasing will be key to unlocking different types of consumer in 2019. Read more in our Market Report https://t.co/lnN0L8ykH2 https://t.co/GU3GI37Oeo
Did you know we've combined Part Ex valuations and Dealer Finance to give you even better quality leads? You can find out more by listening to our recent dedicated webinar: https://t.co/H1yf8kWPnS https://t.co/MMgcsLMFrO
According to the @SMMT, the new car market in 2018 recorded a -6.8% decline on 2017. Diesel dropped nearly -30% but the big winner was AFV, increasing +20.9%. With an array of 2nd gen electric vehicles set to hit the market, will 2019 see the popularity of EVs surge even more? https://t.co/Y6Na7afAJq
Happy 2019! Hopefully not too many sore heads this morning. Remember, December's browsers are ready to be turned into January's buyers - make sure your ads stand out from the crowd with these top tips https://t.co/x8MACPb8S3 https://t.co/x6Zv6U9RkJ
Happy new year to all our customers, partners & friends. Despite what's been a challenging year for the industry both the new & used markets have shown incredible resilience, with both ending 2018 in solid health. That's worth raising a glass to! Cheers https://t.co/zS1WlTUoxt
Auto Trader is a company made up of 800 people committed to providing our customers, car buyers and colleagues with the very best service, platform and work place possible. We're very proud to have received lots of recognition for that commitment in 2018 #proud https://t.co/cC55R67WP0
Did you know that 52% of consumers starting the car buying process already claim to consider the cost of a car as a monthly price, rather than the full retail price? Finance is now central to the car buying process & getting it right, will be key to growth in 2019. https://t.co/yW6gBn0ELO

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