CEO Update Uncategorised

Demand for new cars remains strong, but future instability cannot be ruled out

04 May 2018 #CEO Update #Uncategorised

Reaction to the new car market’s growth in April must be cautious. The 10.4% spike is predominantly caused by buying patterns returning to normal following the change to VED last year which saw purchases pulled forward into an already-busy March, destroying the April 2017 market. That diesel registrations are down for a 13th month is concerning, though not surprising given ongoing confusion about taxation and future policies on these vehicles. Demand remains strong overall but any downturn will inevitably put pressure on manufacturing, and on jobs, too, with 20% of UK-built vehicles staying in the domestic market. Demand should level out in the latter half of the year, but future instability cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile the new car market continues to change shape. Sustained growth for plug-in and hybrid cars is welcome, though demand is still at a low level and is yet to offset declines elsewhere. Strong trends also continue towards dual-purpose and superminis, boosted by the popularity of SUVs and city runarounds respectively.

Summer may have arrived just in time for the bank holiday weekend and, in other good news, SMMT’s events programme will be in full swing this season. In May, our annual media test drive day will bring motoring journalists together with manufacturers and their latest products to Millbrook Proving Ground. June gets a fast start as SMMT Open Forum returns during day one of Automechanika Birmingham 2018, with three influential speakers now confirmed. Suppliers attending will hear from Ben Boutcher-West, Automotive Lead, Bosch; James Taylor, Managing Director, DriveNow; and Tom Westendorp, Business Development Manager – Autonomous Driving, NVIDIA.

Mid-June and SMMT, along with Santander, will be supporting a Sector Trade Mission to Slovakia (more details below). And finally, we are pleased to announce this week that new speakers have been confirmed for our International Panel at the SMMT’s annual International Automotive Summit on 26 June. Representatives of the Japanese, Chinese and German governments will be having an in-depth discussion on the UK as a destination for exports and direct investment. Full details of all our events are available via

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive

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