The UK new car market declined for a fourth consecutive month in June, including a fall in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) for the first time in 26 months.
While there was a boost for battery electric cars, the plug-in hybrid decline continued with a fall of more than 50%, with hybrids also taking a hit.
Figures released last week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show UK new car registrations declined by -4.9% to 223,421 units in June 2019.
New registrations in the first half of 2019 were also down by 3.4% year-on-year, with the SMMT attributing the fall to ‘ongoing confusion over low emission zones and diesel, the removal of key ultra low emission vehicle incentives and an overall decline in buyer confidence’.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Another month of decline is worrying but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern.
“Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives.
“If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure.”
June 2019 saw growth for petrol and battery electric registrations, up 3.0% and 61.7% respectively – but this was not enough to offset the continuing decline of diesel, which fell for the 27th month in a row (-20.5%).
The SMMT figures show plug-in hybrids continuing the recent downward trend, falling by a ‘massive’ -50.4%, while hybrids also fell, by -4.7%.
This tipped the overall AFV sector into negative growth for the first time since April 2017. The SMMT says this is ‘despite ongoing investment, which has enabled manufacturers to offer British car buyers more choice than ever before’ – with more than 350 models now available in the UK, 44 of which are plug-ins.