Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

March sees new petrol and alternatively-fuelled vehicles surge in demand

March sees new petrol and alternatively-fuelled vehicles surge in demand

"A renewed recovery in auto sales is within sight".

New auto sales fell to their lowest level in five years as the biggest selling period of the year - the 19-registration plate change month of March - failed to lift the motor trade.

Demand slipped in both private and business sectors as sales hit their lowest March level since 2013, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Demand fell in the private and business sectors during the crucial auto sales month, with registrations down 2.8% and 44.8% respectively, while fleet demand rose by a marginal 0.3% as the market slumped to its worst March registrations tally since 2013.

The SMMT will release final figures for the month at 0800 GMT on Thursday.

Declines were seen across nearly every vehicle segment, including popular SUVs (1.7%) and small family cars (4%).

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: "While manufacturers continue to invest in exciting models and cutting-edge tech, for the United Kingdom to reap the full benefits of these advances, we need a strong market that encourages the adoption of new technology". By contrast, registrations of petrol cars rose by 5.1% to 312,075, with demand for Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) increasing by 7.6% to 25,302.

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While manufacturers continue to invest in exciting models and cutting-edge tech, for the United Kingdom to reap the full benefits of these advances, we need a strong market that encourages the adoption of new technology.

Diesel cars continued to lose favour with United Kingdom buyers, falling 21% in March, while sales of petrol cars and alternatively fuelled vehicles both rose, by 5% and 8% respectively.

"That means supportive policies, not least on vehicle taxation and incentives, to give buyers the confidence to invest in the new auto that best meets their driving needs". But it warned this progress is dependent on government support, as well as the guarantee of a deal for leaving the EU.

'Above all, we urgently need an end to the political and economic uncertainty by removing permanently the threat of a no-deal Brexit and agreeing a future relationship that avoids any additional friction that would increase costs and hence prices'.

This is evidenced by five of the top 10 best-selling cars in March 2019 being superminis, with the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa being the two most popular cars - with 14,676 and 13,244 of the models being registered respectively.

"March typically sees buyers rushing to dealerships to snag themselves cars with the latest plates so these subdued figures are somewhat surprising", said James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

"This is unlikely to change quickly, so consumers will have to continue to wait longer for new vehicle deliveries until supply levels return to normal, so Q2 could be a particularly hard quarter".

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