New car registrations declined by 6.7% in October with 10,348 fewer units registered during the month than in October last year, according to statistics released by the SMMT.
The SMMT said the lower figures “reflected a tough environment for businesses and consumers as economic and political uncertainty continued to impact confidence.”
The decline was driven by falling demand from private consumers, with registrations down 13.2%. Business demand also fell, while fleet registrations remained stable at +0.3%.
Registrations of diesel cars fell for the 31st month in a row, down 28.3%, while petrols also declined, by 3.2%, however, electrified cars continued to grow in popularity.
Hybrid electric cars increased by 28.9%, with 7,950 leaving showrooms, as battery electric vehicle registrations almost tripled, up 151.8% to 3,162 units and plug-in hybrids were down 1.7%.
Combined, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations reached 9.9% market share in the month – the highest on record, up from 6.9% last year.
Year to date, meanwhile, the new car market remains in decline, the SMMT said, with registrations down by 2.9% on the first 10 months of 2018 with the group blaming the fall on continued uncertainty over diesel and clean air zones, stunted economic growth and uncertainty over Brexit.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies. The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence. Whether the general election delivers a ‘bounce’ to the economy remains to be seen but, with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra low and zero emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.”