New car demand falls 8.5% in May ahead of election

New car registrations fell by 8.5% in May as many consumers and businesses held off on making big decisions until after the June general election, according to the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Despite this decline, demand for hybrid and electric vehicles continued to intensify.

Alternatively fuelled vehicle segment rebounds following April’s decline

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186,265 new cars were registered in the month, with business purchases driving the market to offset declines from private and fleet buyers.

The alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) segment showed resilience following April’s decline, rising a hefty 46.7% to take a new record market share of 4.4%.

This means more than 8,000 AFVs were registered in the month. Almost 50,000 new AFVs have joined Britain’s roads so far this year.

May new car registrations – year-on year

May new car registrations – year-on year

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We expected demand in the new car market to remain negative in May due to the pull-forward to March – which was an all-time record month – resulting from VED reform. Added to this, the general election was always likely to give many pause for thought and affect purchasing patterns in the short term.

“Although demand has fallen, it’s important to remember that the market remains at a very high level and, with a raft of new models packed with the latest low emission and connected technology coming to market this summer, we expect the market to remain strong over the year.”

The market place

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Despite a dip of -0.6% in overall registrations since January, more than 1.1 million new cars have been registered on UK roads so far in 2017. Business and fleet sectors have driven demand, up 5.3% and 2.4% respectively to offset a decline from private buyers of -4.2%. However, more than half a million new cars have been registered by private buyers since the start of the year.

The best-seller list

The Ford Fiesta remains the undisputed king of the new car purchases year-to-date with its nearest rival being its Ford Focus stable mate.

Here’s the top ten in full…

May 2017

Year to date

1. Ford Fiesta – 7,617

1. Ford Fiesta – 50,779

2. Volkswagen Golf – 5,449

2. Ford Focus – 31,762

3. Nissan Qashqai – 4,970

3. Nissan Qashqai – 28,471

4. Ford Focus – 4,455

4. Volkswagen Golf – 27,895

5. Volkswagen Polo – 4,247

5. Vauxhall Corsa – 27,821

6. Vauxhall Astra – 4,170

6. Vauxhall Astra – 25,431

7. Vauxhall Corsa – 4,056

7. Mercedes C Class – 23,284

8. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 4,046

8. Volkswagen Polo – 22,500

9. Mini – 3,535

9. Mercedes A Class – 19,222

10. Mercedes-Benz A-Class – 3,367

10. Mini– 19,952

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