Worst July for new car sales in UK since 2012

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A lorry with car carrier trailer leaves the Honda car plant in Swindon, Britain, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

New car registrations in the UK declined by over 4% last month, making it the slowest July for sales since 2012.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there were 157,198 new cars registered in July, and sales declined for the fifth month in a row — year-to-date performance was down 3.5% overall.

Private demand for cars dropped 2%, while demand from business customers fell by 22%. However, sports cars and luxury saloons bucked the trend, and saw a rise in registrations in July.

SMMT blamed the ongoing sales decline on political and economic turmoil, as well as general confusion over future government policies on different fuel types.

However, there was one bright spot in the July data: demand for battery electric cars nearly tripled in July, now accounting for 1.4% market share in the UK.

SMMT predicts that electric cars will double their market share next year, though they will still only account for just over 2% of the market.

The automotive industry wants the British government to work harder to create the right conditions to allow electric cars to thrive.

“If the UK is to meet its environmental ambitions, however, government must create the right conditions to drive uptake, including long-term incentives and investment in infrastructure,” said SMMT CEO Mike Hawes in a statement.

“The fastest way to address air quality concerns is through fleet renewal so buyers need to be given the confidence to invest in the new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs, regardless of how they are powered,” Hawes said.