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Fleets drive slight growth in new car market

Date: 06 August 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

July saw a small increase in the number of new cars sold in the UK, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Year-on-year registrations were up 1.2% during the month, to 163,898. The improvement was mainly driven by an increase in the number of fleet registrations - to organisations with 25 or more vehicles - which were up by 2.6%. 

Sales to fleets with less than 25 vehicles were down by 10.2%, but these form a very small part of the market. 

Private new car sales were up by 0.1%.

When it came to fuel choice the heavy decline in diesel registrations continued, down 24.4% year-on-year, while petrol car sales were up 20.1%.

Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles - hybrids and plug-ins - were up by 21%, to a new record high overall market share of 6.5%. Growth was particularly strong for plug-in hybrids, which were up by 33.5%, while conventional hybrids were up by 17.5%, and fully electric cars by 2.4%. 

For 2018 to date, the overall market remains down by 5.5%, following turbulent sales earlier in the year. 

Reacting to the latest figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The feel-good factor from a sun and sport-packed July, combined with some fantastic deals on a raft of exciting new models, clearly helped keep showrooms relatively busy last month. 

"It's great to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this growth, and government's acknowledgement of the vital role new-tech diesel will play in its Road to Zero strategy should help more even more motorists benefit from the latest, safest and low emission technology over the coming months."

The Ford Fiesta remained the UK's bestselling car in July, with 6,222 registrations, ahead of the Volkswagen Golf with 5,582 and the Volkswagen Polo with 3,847.