CEO Update

Market dampened by low consumer confidence

04 October 2019 #CEO Update

Today’s car registration figures show that September, with its new 69-plate, saw a modest increase of just over 1% – only the second time we’ve seen growth in 2019 since the traditionally slow month of February. While this is good news, it masks a deeply worrying underlying position.

What the September percentage figure doesn’t show is the continuing downward trend we’ve seen over the past 30 months and that September last year was itself down more than -20% over 2017 numbers, affected by the introduction of the new WLTP testing regime.

Key European markets such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain have all seen significant double-digit increases in September, which is what we would have expected to see in the UK as well, but consumer confidence has been badly dented by the political and economic uncertainty.

Overall, the market remains -2.5% down in the first three quarters of the year, albeit with encouraging signs in the AFV segment, with hybrid and battery electric vehicles up 15.3% and 122% respectively.

If we’re to see a reverse of the current downward trend in the new car market – and indeed to make further steps in reducing the emissions of the UK motor parc – we need to restore stability to the market. This means avoiding a ‘no deal’ Brexit and agreeing a future relationship with the European Union that avoids tariffs and barriers that will increase prices and reduce buyer choice.

Despite the Brexit uncertainty, we continue to look for opportunities to promote UK Automotive abroad, including European markets. This week saw SMMT take a delegation of UK companies to Poland in conjunction with Santander and the Department for International Trade.

Highlights of the trip included market briefings from DIT experts and PZPM (SMMT’s Polish counterpart), a networking reception at the UK embassy in Warsaw, B2B meetings for all UK delegates and factory visits in the region.

We look forward to seeing the UK-Poland relationship continue to strengthen especially with early indications of the mission providing great opportunities for the British delegates.

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