New car registrations slumped by 20% in April 2017 compared to last year, as the market was hit hard by changes to the cost of road tax.
Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that registrations of new cars fell 19.8% to 152,076 units following March, the biggest month on record, which saw 562,337 cars registered.
Despite the downturn in April, strong sales in March mean that 2017’s year-to-date performance remains at record levels. 972,092 were registered from January to April, up 1.1% on last year, although the next few months are not expected to maintain last year’s pace.
The new vehicle excise duty (road tax) rates came into force on 1st April and have affected demand for new vehicles across the board. Registrations by private buyers, businesses and large fleets fell 28.4%, 21.0% and 12.3% respectively.
Tax rises for hybrid and electric vehicles affected the alternatively fuelled vehicle market which saw a downturn of 1.3%, the first for 47 months.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, remained optimistic however, stating that a downturn had been expected as a result of fewer selling days over Easter and changes to VED rates. The SMMT “expects demand to stabilise over the year as the turbulence created by the tax changes decreases.”