Good News and Bad For UK Motor Industry

Mon 7th Jan 2019

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) has delivered good news and bad ahead of what is sure to be a tumultuous year in the industry.

Following on from sales drops of 7% in 2018, and 6% in 2017, the SMMT is predicting that sales will slide again in 2019, but only by 2%.

However, with the uncertainty of Brexit on the horizon, the SMMT CEO, Mike Hawes is not making bold predictions about the year ahead.

“A second year of substantial decline is a major concern, as falling consumer confidence, confusing fiscal and policy messages and shortages due to regulatory changes have combined to create a highly turbulent market,” Hawes said reflecting on the disappointing 2018 performance.

“The industry is facing ever-tougher environmental targets against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty that is weakening demand so these figures should act as a wake-up call for policy makers.

“Supportive, not punitive measures are needed to grow sales, because replacing older cars with new technologies, whether diesel, petrol, hybrid or plug-in, is good for the environment, the consumer, the industry and the exchequer.

“Despite the overall decline in 2018, demand for new cars in the UK remains solid, with volumes on a par with the preceding 15-year average,3 and the market still the second biggest in the EU, behind Germany. It is also one of the most diverse, with buyers able to choose from some 350 different models available in fuel types and body styles to suit all driving needs.

“Meanwhile, more than 80 exciting new generation models – 31 of them plug-in electrics – are set to make their showroom debuts in 2019, and with some compelling deals on offer, the industry is continuing to invest to grow the market despite the headwinds.”

In addition to Brexit worries in 2018, the industry also had to contend with a 30% drop in the sales of diesel car and a not so smooth transition to a new European emissions-testing programme. The new testing system delayed the launch of a range of car models across Europe and this led to a significant slump through the last quarter of sales.