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New car market falls 1.6% in August

It was the sixth consecutive month of decline.

The new car market fell 1.6% last month (Andrew Matthews/PA)
The new car market fell 1.6% last month (Andrew Matthews/PA)

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Demand for new cars fell 1.6% last month, the automotive industry has said.

Some 92,573 new cars were registered in August compared with 94,094 during the same month in 2018, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

It was the sixth consecutive month of decline.

The SMMT said falling demand for diesel and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to affect the overall market.

Private and fleet registrations fell 3.0% and 1.5% respectively last month, while the smaller business market was down 34.7%.

Sales of diesel models dropped 12.2%, but demand for new petrol cars was up 1.0%.

The market for battery electric cars more than quadrupled, mostly due to the registration of more than 2,000 Tesla Model 3 cars.

Registrations for hybrid cars that cannot be plugged in grew 36.2% but the plug-in hybrid sector fell 71.8%.

Government grants for new low-emission cars were slashed in October last year, meaning hybrid models are no longer eligible for the scheme.

Motoring groups have warned that the decision will leave the UK struggling to meet targets to reduce vehicle emissions.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV (electric vehicle) registrations is very visible but especially welcome.

“It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years.

While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero (emissions) and, while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake Mike Hawes, SMMT

“While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead.

“It’s a long road to zero (emissions) and, while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake.

“To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term Government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “More electric cars on our roads is a good sign because it shows that people are concerned about the environment and opting for greener transport.

“The Government is backing this and making it easier to use electric cars by ensuring there are more charging points across the country.

“As a new owner of an electric car, I can confirm from my own experience that they’re quiet and impressive, and that with more charging locations than petrol stations now available, charging up is becoming very straightforward.”

Tesla’s Model 3 is the first electric car to appear in the top 10 best selling car charts after what is likely to have been a huge delivery from America.

James Baggott, founder of industry publication Car Dealer Magazine, described the rise in electric vehicle registrations as an “abnormal blip”.

He said: “It’s worth noting that the SMMT registration figures relate to cars registered, not sold, in the month. Most Tesla Model 3 buyers put down their deposits years ago, so these will simply be Tesla finally delivering a car they promised back in 2016.

“This was effectively the first full month of deliveries for the Model 3 in the UK.”

Tesla has had a number of well publicised problems with Model 3 production and UK customers have had to wait more than three years to get their hands on their cars. Model 3 deliveries first began in America in July 2017.

PA

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