A fast start to the New Year with SMMT trips to CES in Las Vegas and EV100 in Beijing with UK companies, flying the flag for UK Automotive which remains ‘open for business’ as we seek to confront technological challenges and opportunities. But the first week back is also always about new car registration figures and the outcome of the previous year.
The numbers for 2019 were as disappointing as expected, with a -2.4% drop marking the third year of decline for the UK new car market. There are ongoing points of concern – political and economic uncertainty has taken its toll, but also worrying is the confusion around clean air zones and other policy measures, which have had an impact on buyer confidence.
If the market continues to decline, it will hinder the UK’s ability to meet the latest CO2 targets and will undermine our wider environmental goals. We urgently need a broad portfolio of supportive policies that will encourage investment in infrastructure, as well as measures to boost the uptake of the latest low and zero emission cars which means, first and foremost, long-term purchase incentives to help buyers make the move to these new technologies.
The 144% increase in battery electric vehicle sales in 2019 is an encouraging sign, as are the 23 new BEV models on the way in 2020, but there’s a lot of work to do to grow these cars from their 1.6% market share to the 50-70% slice of the market that the government envisages by the end of the decade.
In the long term, it’s crucial that UK Automotive builds up solid international links and is at the forefront of the shift to electrified, connected and autonomous vehicles. This week’s visits to the US and China are key as we promote the UK as a great place to do business and develop and build the latest- and next-generation cars. We have a busy calendar planned for the rest of the year and we look forward to working with you in 2020, whatever it may bring.