UK: New car sales drop by 20 per cent in April

a busy london street

Vehicle registrations dropped by a fifth as purchasers looked to prevent the new tax rates in April but they’re still up on 2016.

New car sales plunged by 20 percent in April as buyers sought to prevent the new, higher Car Excise Duty rates presented in the beginning of the month.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal 152,076 new automobiles were registered in last month, down 19.8 percent on the previous year. General registrations have reached 972,092 in the first 4 months of the year.

The SMMT said most of the fall was down to purchasers aiming to beat the 1 April tax hike by purchasing their cars in March. Demand throughout private and business fleets was down, with private buyers down more than any, at 28.4 percent.

Fleet and business demand dropped 12.3 percent and 21.0 percent. Diesel vehicles took a bit hit in April, with demand dropped by 27.3 per cent. Comparatively, demand for petrol automobiles was only down by 13.1 percent. Curiously, even alternative fuel vehicle need– which has grown by 23.8 percent from 2016 dropped 1.3 per cent in the month of April.

Regardless of taking a 30 percent drop in registrations in last month, Ford continues to top the list for the best selling automobile with its Fiesta. The Ford Focus is the second-best selling in the UK, with 27,307 registrations from the start of the year.

Although the Vauxhall Corsa has the third most registrations from the start of the year (23,765) it didn’t even make the leading 10 list for April’s best-selling vehicles. Total registrations for the Luton make were dropped 33 percent for April.

It seems that despite poor numbers for April, total automobile registrations stay 1.1 percent up compared to 2016 – which was a record year for automobile sales.

Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO stated: “With the rush to register new cars and trucks and prevent VED tax rises prior to the end of March, as well as fewer selling days because of the later Easter, April was always going to be much slower. It’s important to note that the marketplace stays at record levels as customers still see many advantages in purchasing a new automobile. We therefore anticipate demand to stabilise for many years as the turbulence created by these tax changes reduces.”

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