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New car sales to fleets stable as overall market falls

Date: 04 April 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The UK new car market in March saw fleets bucking a broader downward trend, with registrations for the sector up by 0.3% amid a 3.4% overall fall.

The slight rise in registrations to fleets was more than offset by private registrations being down by 2.8%, and business registrations - classed as to firms with fewer than 25 vehicles - plummeting by 44.8%, though the latter make up only a tiny fraction of the overall market.

The year-on-year figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also show a continuation of the recent steep decline in demand for diesel-powered cars, with registrations of these down by 21.4%. 

Petrol-fuelled car registrations were up by 5.1%, and sales of alternatively-fuelled cars rose by 7.6%. 

The SMMT says almost every vehicle segment saw a decline in sales - including recently booming SUVs, down by 1.8% - however the most popular segment, superminis, did see a 4.3% increase.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "March is a key barometer for the new car market, so this fall is of clear concern. While manufacturers continue to invest in exciting models and cutting-edge tech, for the UK to reap the full benefits of these advances, we need a strong market that encourages the adoption of new technology. 

"That means supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation and incentives, to give buyers the confidence to invest in the new car that best meets their driving needs.

"Above all, we urgently need an end to the political and economic uncertainty by removing permanently the threat of a 'no deal' Brexit and agreeing a future relationship that avoids any additional friction that would increase costs and hence prices."

The Ford Fiesta was once again the UK's bestselling car in March, with 14,676 registrations, but it faced a strong challenge from the Vauxhall Corsa with 13,244. 

The Volkswagen Golf (11,072), Mercedes-Benz A-Class (10,805) and Nissan Qashqai (10,701) completed the top five.