New car sales remained challenging in the traditionally small month of February due to a number of external factors, namely the changes to emission regulations affecting manufacturers according to the latest SMMT new passenger car registration figures.

The UK New car market declined by -2.9% in February with 79,594 units registered. Year to date, 228,873 new cars have been registered, 5.8% less than last year. In February, registrations of petrol cars declined -7.3%, diesel -27.1%, whilst battery electric vehicles continued to experience significant growth, up 243.1%. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) rose 49.9%. Demand from private consumers decreased by -7.4% while fleet was stable 0.1%.

It is encouraging to see that the electric vehicle sector continues to perform well, but it is vital that consumers and businesses are supported going forward to ensure a gradual and successful transition to zero-emission engines. Vehicles need to be affordable, with a reliable and easy to access charging infrastructure, Government incentives and investments can help.

Overall retail spending in the UK returned to form at the beginning of the year showing signs of improving consumer confidence, which would have a positive effect also on the automotive sector.

We look forward to seeing what the plate-change month of March has in store with the new ‘20 plate’ attracting more consumers to dealerships.