Hot weather and axed plug-in car grant blamed for fall in new car sales

Published 07 May 2019

The number of new plug-in hybrid cars registered in April fell by more than a third as industry commentators blame the 'premature' axe of the plug-in car grant - along with unusually hot weather over the Easter break - for the UK's declining new car market. 

Data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that 161,064 new cars were registered in April 2019, compared to 167,911 during the same period last year - a drop of 4.1 per cent.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), blames the slowdown in physical footfall to dealerships caused by Easter falling in April alongside the unseasonably warm weather.

“Positively, there continues to be solid demand at franchised dealerships for used and nearly new cars, which provide excellent opportunities for all types of motorists," said the NFDA's director, Sue Robinson.

While demand for diesel continues to drop, the numbers of new diesel cars being registered haven't plunged as much as in recent months - with numbers down by 9.4 per cent compared to this time last year.

"You have to dig pretty deep to draw out anything positive from this data," said Alex Buttle, director of car selling website

"Although a single digit decline in diesel sales in April suggests that segment is reaching a level of stability.

"Unfortunately, petrol sales were also negative last month, and hybrid and electric sales, where much of the optimism for the future of the UK car industry is focussed, were steady but not spectacular. And steady figures aren't going to keep us on schedule for the 2040 switchover."

Small hatchbacks and small family cars were hit hardest, with demand down 14.1 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively. 


aethelwulf    on 7 May 2019

I think it is more to do with the government's negative attitude to motoring generally.The increase in VED also helps as my £30 car ,if changed, would shoot up. Stuff that and pay thousands too. I shall run mine until it cannot be repaired which is ,I hope some years away. So no assistance from me to fund the massive showrooms of s******s.

Paul G Hammond    on 7 May 2019

I agree with you entirely the motor Industry is in a mess led by the present Government

dave 2345    on 7 May 2019

if they want us to buy hybrid they need to make it affordable

Petegeoff    on 7 May 2019

And where do you think subsidies come from?

Kekettykek    on 7 May 2019

I don't see why people are obsessed over VED. It is, and always has been, a very small proportion of the total cost of owning a car.

Arminius JP    on 7 May 2019

Since the 2017 changes, the proportion has become more material than once it was. Aside from possible first year charges of as much as £2,135 the next five years of ownership for vehicles originally priced at more than £40,000 will cost an extra £1,600. These are non-trivial sums that compare unfavourably to those vehicles that only suffer the standard annual rate and very unfavourably against the c. £30 or less VED charge prevailing before 2017 on vehicles with low emissions.

signman    on 8 May 2019

I drove 40000 miles in 2 years in my 46mpg £30VED diesel Kia before a change of location where I now cover only 9000 a year.
So, March 2019 was decision time - do I hock myself to a £35k PHEV plus the £500 charging unit at home and £140VED or pay off £10k on my diesel which still has 4 years of warranty?
I decided to keep what I have and see how things are with full EV battery life and national charging infrastructure in 4 years time. A good decision for me financially, but a poor one for our environment, economy and the Government tax take on a new car I'm not buying now.

Falkirk Bairn    on 8 May 2019

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Looked at this about 12 mths ago - little in the way of discounts apart from the Govt subsidy.
Today adverts in Autotrader for Pre-Reg cars with under 20miles - £7,000/£8,000 off list....................funny when the market contracts & the subsidy ceases prices can come down!!!!

gavsmit    on 8 May 2019

The reason why I'm keeping my current car for longer than I would've done is because of the obscene list price inflation of new cars in recent years.

If I was to buy a new model of my current car with the same engine and trim it will cost just over 22% more than it did 4 years ago (and the model itself hasn't changed significantly in that time either - so no excuses here for more mandatory safety kit / tech etc.).

Other makes are a lot worse - you can pay well over £20k for a supermini class car from a mainstream manufacturer that isn't even a sports model. I wouldn't sleep at night thinking of the huge depreciation a new car will experience from such a huge purchase price.

So maybe car sales continue to fall because they cost too much and people have finally realised it; after being initially fooled by misleading finance deals.

connollyt    on 9 May 2019

it doesnt help that when you go to a car dealer, they cant get their bums of the chair to speak to you. went to a vw dealer and not one salesman came over or spoke and it was empty. walked out sod them

Edited by connollyt on 09/05/2019 at 08:56

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