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The new car market slumped by 4.1% in April with the second lowest number of vehicles registered during the month since 2012, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

In total, 161,064 units were registered during the month. While private car registrations dropped by 10.3% the fleet market weathered the storm, growing by 2.8% compared with April 2018’s figures.

During the month, zero emission-capable plug-in hybrids experienced a significant decline, down by 34.4% in April and 20.4% year-to-date with the SMMT  blaming the Government for removing the plug-in car grant for PHEVs too early.

True fleet registrations dropped by 4.8%

Meanwhile, diesel registrations fell but the pace of decline slowed significantly, down  by 9.4% and petrol demand dropped by 3.0%.

Overall, alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations grew by 12.7%, with 10,254 leaving showrooms. Petrol electric hybrids remained the most popular choice, up 31.1% to 6,810 units. Battery electric cars also recorded a strong uplift, from 929 to 1,517 units, however, this still only represents 0.9% of the market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While it’s great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero. The industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition, providing ever cleaner cars to suit every need. We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers. This includes investment in infrastructure and long term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”