It’s been a turbulent first six months for the UK’s new car market, as half-year registration figures released yesterday by SMMT showed a 6.3% fall since January. In June, registrations were down 3.5%, following rises in April and May, whereas March witnessed a steep decline as the effects of last year’s VED reform impacted purchasing patterns.
The ongoing uncertainty around future government policies towards diesel is also having a marked effect on buying behaviour. Demand for diesel continues to decline, and double-digit rises for both petrol and alternatively fuelled vehicles so far this year are not enough to compensate.
Welcome as it is to see consumers and businesses buying ever more hybrid, plug-in and pure electric vehicles, they still represent a tiny fraction of the more than 1.3 million new cars joining British roads. Given these small numbers, they cannot yet make the significant impact on reducing CO2 emissions that modern diesel engines deliver, so we look to the forthcoming government strategy announcements to reassure consumers that diesel is still the right choice for many motorists.
The rise of low emission, connected and autonomous cars, the fourth industrial revolution and new business opportunities were all on the agenda during SMMT’s trade mission to South Korea this week. Seven UK-based SMMT members formed part of a delegation visiting Korean based suppliers, car makers and other stakeholders. The strength of the automotive relationship between the two countries is strong, with the potential to get even stronger. As the UK plans to leave the European Union, developing trade links with important markets like Korea will be crucial. We look to Government to ensure existing Free Trade Agreements continue to apply to the UK and the UK automotive sector, bearing in mind the increased protectionism and disruption affecting long established trading relationships elsewhere.
Lastly, I’m delighted to say that BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley will be providing musical entertainment at the 102nd SMMT Annual Dinner in November. One of the nation’s favourite DJs, Jo spent many years on BBC Radio 1 hosting daytime and weekend programmes. She’s also presented TV coverage for major music festivals including Glastonbury and hosted programmes for Channel 4. The dinner also features a keynote address by SMMT President, Tony Walker CBE, Managing Director of Toyota Motor Europe London Office, as well as entertainment from comedian and actress, Katherine Ryan. Tickets are selling fast – click here to get yours – https://www.smmt.co.uk/events/annualdinner/