• Home
  • Advice
  • Brands
  • Partners
  • News
  • Reviews
  • Forum
  • New car ratings

Turbulent year for new car sales ends on a low note

Stay up to date with the latest from The Car Expert

Latest articles

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 has been highly praised by the UK media for its performance, driving dynamics and minimalist style, with criticism for some ergonomic issues.

Nissan Leaf e+ review

The Nissan Leaf e+ is a worthy range-topper with a bigger battery providing improved performance and better range, but it still can't keep up with key rivals.

Chevrolet Corvette changes to middle lane

The all-new Chevrolet Corvette has been revealed after years of rumours and teasers – and the new model is very different to what has gone before.

Skoda updates Kodiaq and Karoq with new tech

Skoda has revealed updates to its Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs for the 2020 model year.
 

New car registrations were down over 5% in December as poor fleet sales dragged figures down the overall market, bringing a difficult year to a close.

Private sales were down by less than 4% in December, which equates to fewer than 2,000 vehicles, over the same month the previous year. Given the reports of poor Christmas trading all across the retail sector, this is probably not a bad result and is broadly in line with recent months.

As we regularly point out (and as most media completely ignore), 90% of all private new cars are bought on dealer finance agreements that essentially require the customer to change their car at the end of the term, which all but guarantees a supply of repeat customers for the car industry.


You may also like:

The 8% fall in fleet registrations is a more worrying sign, with the expectation that businesses are freezing new contracts and purchases in the face of political uncertainty over Brexit. This will almost certainly continue over the first half of 2019 as well, regardless of what sort of Brexit we get (or don’t get, as the case may be…).

   

December 2018 new car sales

Diesel continues to fall, electric cars not plugging the gap

Diesel sales slid back under 30% market share as the year drew to a close, a couple of percentage points below the full-year average of just under 32%. Whether this becomes the new normal or diesel falls further in 2019 remains to be seen.

Sales of alternatively-fueled vehicles have not exactly been sparkling for the last few months, and this continued in December. Yes, numbers are up compared to last year, but nowhere near enough to lead us all to a greener future.

This is largely because new emissions rules that came into effect in September have severely restricted availability of several of the top-selling plug-in hybrid models. This is not expected to be resolved until about the middle of 2019.

Small cars and family hatchbacks dominate the top ten

The top eight cars in the best-sellers list were all hatchbacks in December, quite probably a reflection on the greater drop in fleet registrations compared to private sales.

December 2018 best-selling cars

The perennially market-leading Ford Fiesta was followed by the Volkswagen Polo and Mini hatch, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Two SUVs rounded out the top ten, being the Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai.

In terms of full-year sales, December’s results didn’t change very much. The Polo’s strong month mean that it jumped the Mini for sixth place, but that was it.

We will have a detailed analysis of the overall 2018 results later this week, so check back to The Car Expert soon.

For the best independent and impartial car buying advice on the internet, always check with The Car Expert:

  • Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and the latest offers from car manufacturers
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see our latest articles as soon as we publish them
  • Bookmark our site so you can check back regularly
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.

The Car Expert Gold Partners

(click each logo to read more)

Turbulent year for new car sales ends on a low note 1
Turbulent year for new car sales ends on a low note 2
Turbulent year for new car sales ends on a low note 3
Turbulent year for new car sales ends on a low note 4

Latest articles

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 has been highly praised by the UK media for its performance, driving dynamics and minimalist style, with criticism for some ergonomic issues.

Nissan Leaf e+ review

The Nissan Leaf e+ is a worthy range-topper with a bigger battery providing improved performance and better range, but it still can't keep up with key rivals.

Chevrolet Corvette changes to middle lane

The all-new Chevrolet Corvette has been revealed after years of rumours and teasers – and the new model is very different to what has gone before.

Skoda updates Kodiaq and Karoq with new tech

Skoda has revealed updates to its Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs for the 2020 model year.

Fiat Tipo

The Fiat Tipo is a medium-sized five-door hatchback and estate family car. The current generation model arrived in the UK in the...

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

Be the first to know

Would you like to stay up to date with The Car Expert?