More bad news for diesel in June sales results

Continued new car sales slowdown as 2017 hits the halfway mark

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Sales of new diesel cars have continued to fall, as highlighted by June’s official registration results released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The overall market was down nearly 5% in June, a not-unexpected result in an election month and especially so given the uncertainty results from the election outcome. Private and business customers shied away from showrooms in greater numbers, with fleet sales also down slightly.

Good news for electric cars and hybrids

It was another month of good news for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (electric cars, hybrids, natural gas and others), with registrations up 29% on the same month last year. The AFV segment now solidly holds more than 4% of the overall market, and its growth is in stark contrast to the ongoing woe of diesel car sales.

June was another bad month for diesel registrations, down nearly 15% on last year. This follows year-on-year falls of 20% and 27% in the previous two months. Diesel’s market share fell even further than May’s low point, slipping to 42.5% of overall sales.

Ironically, given that Volkswagen’s Dieselgate crisis largely precipitated the rapid fall in diesel sales, it was a big month for the Volkswagen Golf, knocking the Ford Fiesta off the top spot for the first time in a long time (since December 2014, to be exact). However, the Fiesta is undergoing a model change and we expect to see it return to the top of the charts very soon as the new model arrives in showrooms.

It was a good month for Dacia, with 45% more registrations than the same month last year. Lotus, Aston Martin, Volkswagen and SEAT all recorded double-digit growth in June. Not so happy were Jeep (down 75%) and DS Automobiles (down 50%). Subaru, Maserati, Infiniti, Citroën, Renault, Mazda, Vauxhall, Fiat, Skoda, Lexus, Peugeot, Bentley and Ford all recorded double-digit falls compared to last year.

No end in sight for diesel dramas

At the halfway point of the year, diesel car sales are more than 67,000 units behind last year’s figures, with most of those falls coming in the last three months. Despite the industry’s protestations that modern Euro-6 diesel engines are cleaner than ever, customers are clearly unconvinced and are deserting diesel cars in their thousands.

There appears to be no end in sight for the slump in diesel sales, and manufacturers appear to be starting to prepare for a post-diesel future. Volvo has announced today that every new model it launches from 2019 will be partly or fully electric, and last month suggested that it was not planning any more development on diesel engine technology.

At the end of a tumultuous first six months of 2017, the overall British new car market is down by 1.3%. Fleet and business registrations are up on last year, but are cancelled out by a fall of nearly 5% in private registrations.

Manufacturers and dealers will be hoping for some stability from the new government and reasonable Brexit talks to keep customers in a buying mood for the second half of the year. Of course, that may be wishful thinking…

June 2017 best-selling cars

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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  1. My first read of your product. Very impressed with the article on car sales finance.
    Question…I bought my first ever diesel 20 months ago. My 5th new Mercedes in 12 years. In 14 months time I had planned to pay the balloon figure to keep the car, Merc E 220 d. With the demise of interest in diesel, if the second-hand value at the end if my contract is less than the balloon figure. Are dealers likely to accept less than the balloon? Other than risk taking the CAR back and reselling it as used car.
    It would be very good to hear your views on this matter. Sincerely Gilbert Hamblett.

    • Hi Gilbert. The balloon figure is your finance settlement, so it’s not negotiable if you want to complete the purchase of the vehicle from the finance company. The car’s market value does not come into it unless you are wanting to change the vehicle, in which case you’d either part-exchange it to the dealer (if it’s worth more than the balloon value) or give it back to the finance company (if it’s worth less than the balloon value).

      Your finance contract has nothing to do with the dealership unless you want to part-exchange the car on another one (or simply sell them the car outright). The dealer buys the car from you and settles the finance on your behalf, and then they sell the car on. They are only going to do this if the car is worth more than the settlement figure.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.