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Hybrids remain ‘real disruptor’ to new car market

Diesel sales are unlikely to recover in the foreseeable future from the various blows dealt to them, putting hybrids rather than electric or petrol vehicles in the limelight as the “real disruptor” to the market.

Hybrids are the “real disruptor” to the new car market, says UHY Hacker Young

So says UHY Hacker Young as it points out that diesel car sales continue to plunge – far outweighing the rise in petrol sales.

The firm’s research indicates that diesel car sales in the UK have fallen by 26% in the last year – matching the 26% fall in 2017/18 – equating to a further loss of  242,000 units, from 930,000 to 688,000. Meanwhile petrol car sales have risen by just 131,000 units or 10% in comparison.

And while the biggest jump in new car sales in the past year has been seen among battery electric vehicles – which have risen 41% from 13,000 in 2017/18 to 18,500 in 2018/19 – this is still only a tiny fraction of new car sales overall.

In comparison, hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius, saw sales rise another 26% to 92,000 in the past year. The category now makes up 4% of all new cars sold.

Paul Daly, automotive partner in the firm’s Manchester office, said: “Between the negative perceptions of diesel engines among buyers, and the Government’s moves to discourage diesel through tax, it’s unlikely that diesel sales will recover in the foreseeable future.”

“This is a shame, as the latest Euro 6 diesels actually make a compelling environmental case, especially for higher mileage drivers”

“Manufacturers and dealerships will have hoped that petrol sales would make up for the shortfall, but that simply hasn’t happened.”

He added: “The real disruptor to the market at present remains hybrids, and battery electric vehicles still have a big gap to close to change that.”

UHY Hacker Young’s figures have been published a fortnight after Emissions Analytics published data showing hybrids are best for CO2 reduction in the short term, based on a focus of “efficient deployment of available battery capacity between competing applications” which it says is critical to maximising fleet CO2 reduction. As such, governments and cities are being warned not to focus solely on the eco benefits of electric vehicles.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.