Fleet registrations down 10% in July
New car demand fell across both fleet and private buyers in July, leading to a 9.3% market downturn.
Latest figures from the SMMT show a total of 89,186 fleet registrations were recorded last month – down 10.1% on the 99,156 seen in the same month last year. Sub-25 ‘business’ registrations saw an even bigger fall, with a downturn of 23.8% to 5,106 units from 6,699 in July 2016. Driven also by a 6.8% fall in private registrations, the total market fell 9.3% to 161,997 units – the fourth consecutive monthly fall this year.
July also saw diesel registrations continue to decline with a 20.1% fall from 86,594 units to 69,157 – bringing its market share down from 48.5% in July 2016 to 42.7% for the same month this year. Petrol was also down, albeit with a smaller 3.0% decline to 83,969 units from 86,550. In contrast, demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles surged 64.9% to 8,871 units, bringing a new record market share of 5.5%.
Year to date, the fleet sector remains stable, with a 0.1% rise to 817,767 units from 816,668 last year, with a similar picture for the sub-25 sector – down 0.2% to 60,656 units from 60,764. Meanwhile private registrations fell 5.0% to 685,385 units. The overall market for the first seven months of the year stands at 1,563,808 units – down 2.2%.
Commenting on the figures, the SMMT attributed the July downturn to growing uncertainty over Brexit but said it was in line with forecasts. It also said the fall in diesel registrations was the result of months of speculation about government policies.
Lauren Pamma, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, also commented on the figures, saying: “It’s normal for there to be a ‘summer dip’ in registrations ahead of the new plates in September and general business uncertainty has added to the fall. However, it’s encouraging to see that fleets still account for more than half of total registrations.
“An increase in alternative fuelled vehicle registrations is no surprise and it’ll be fascinating to see what the impact of the Government Air Quality Plan, announced last week, will have on take up of electric and hybrid vehicles in coming months. However, as far as businesses are concerned, 2040 is four to six fleet cycles away, which allows plenty of time for fleets to adopt electric vehicles.
“Appetite from fleets for electric vehicles will continue to grow, but we’re unlikely to see a short-term mass move to pure electric given the limited vehicle types currently available which are fit for many fleets’ purposes.”