New car sales continue falling in July

Diesel sales continue to flounder as overall markets slows

- Advertisement -

UK new car registrations fell by more than 9% in July, with demand down across private, fleet and particularly business buyers, according to the results released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Private sales were down by just under 7% compared to last year, with a fall of 10% for fleet sales (the largest market segment) and nearly 24% for business purchasers.

For fleet purchases, this may still be a hangover from the road tax increases in April that produced a record month in March.

UK new car registrations, July 2017

Diesel disaster continues

It was another terrible month for diesel cars, with registrations down 20% on the same month last year. Year-to-date, diesel sales are 85,000 units behind last year’s results, against petrol sales which are 53,000 units up on the same point last year.

The poor diesel results come despite considerable anecdotal evidence of heavy discounting on diesel cars from various manufacturers. A quick check of several car broker sites this week revealed larger deposit contributions being offered for diesel-engined models of numerous cars compared to their petrol-engined equivalents – all linked to PCP car finance plans, of course.

We couldn’t find any published diesel-specific discounts or offers from car manufacturers, but dealership sources have told The Car Expert that at least some brands have “large pots of money” available to help dealers shift unwanted diesel cars on their forecourts.

Nothing to see here

As has been the norm for the last four months, the SMMT release almost completely ignored the disastrous diesel results. Instead, it highlighted the continued growth in ‘alternatively-fuelled’ vehicles (ie – hybrids and fully-electric cars).

While this growth is impressive from a year-on-year perspective, the actual number of vehicles is a mere fraction of what the overall market lost during the month.

AFV registrations reached 5.5% of the overall market, compared to 3% in July 2016. This compares with petrol cars holding almost 52% and diesel cars just under 43% of the total. Nobody expects AFV numbers to go anywhere except upwards, as more and more manufacturers offer hybrid options across their model ranges.

In fact, if the industry is to achieve the government’s plan of replacing all petrol and diesel cars by 2040, the current pace of hybridisation and electrification is woefully inadequate.

For those playing SMMT press release bingo, you will be pleased to know that the usual suspects all turned up, with “Brexit”, “Euro 6”, “AFVs”, “uncertainty” and “government must act” all appearing as usual.

Ford back on top – but not with the Fiesta

Looking at the best-sellers list, it was a month of change throughout the top ten.

In the absence of lots of new Fiesta stock for dealers to sell, Ford dealers have enjoyed a strong month for the larger Ford Focus hatchback. The Focus jumped to the top of the July charts, overtaking last month’s leader, the Volkswagen Golf. The Fiesta fell to fourth, behind the Nissan Qashqai.

It was a great month for the Kia Sportage SUV, which jumped into fifth place from outside the top ten previously. Mercedes-Benz had two cars in the top ten with both the C-Class and A-Class present, and the Audi A3 rounded out the top ten. The MINI hatch and BMW 3 Series dropped back out of the top ten altogether.

Ten best-selling cars in the UK, July 2017

- Advertisement -
Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
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.

Latest Expert Advice

How to understand a PCP car finance quote

Thousands of people look at a PCP car finance quote and are hopelessly confused by all the different numbers. Cut through the confusion with this guide.

What to expect as car dealerships in England reopen

Car dealerships in England have been allowed to open from today, but what safety processes should you expect to see in place?

Latest Expert Ratings

Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric been highly praised by the media for its 250+ mile driving range and its overall practicality.

Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade has received average media reviews. Its Expert Rating of 60% is poor and ranks it only 18th out of 20 cars in its class.

BMW unveils eye-catching new 4 Series Coupé

BMW has revealed its latest-generation 4 Series Coupé, debuting a dramatic new design ahead of its market launch in October.

Citroën releases UK pricing for updated C3

Citroën announces pricing and specifications for its refreshed C3, which brings a sharper exterior look alongside efficient new engines.

May new car sales show first painful signs of recovery

It was another month of agonisingly low new car sales in May, with just over 20,000 new vehicles registered as showrooms remained closed.

Euro NCAP announces big changes to safety testing

Car crash test procedures are getting their biggest overhaul in a decade to improve occupant safety and improve post-crash protection.

More from The Car Expert

Expert Advice

Award-winning, independent and impartial advice on buying, financing, owning and running a car

Expert Ratings

We analyse and aggregate dozens of media reviews for each new car into an overall Expert Rating

Expert News

All the most important new car launches, model updates, car reviews and industry news

Expert Partners

Our new space for commercial partners to bring you special offers on their products and services

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.