The new car market saw a -2.4% overall decline in 2019 as a result of the continued, prolonged political uncertainty and a number of challenges affecting the automotive sector, namely supply constraints and confusion surrounding emissions.

New passenger car registrations rose by 3.4% in December with a total of 148,997 units registered, according to the latest SMMT figures. However, the market closed 2019 with a decline of -2.4% from last year with 2,311,140 new cars registered. In December, sales of petrol cars rose by 2.6%, diesel declined -19%. Alternative fuel vehicles took a record market share of 7.4% in 2019. In December, pure electric cars rose by 220.7% and, in 2019, by 144%.

It is encouraging to see that plug-in hybrids and electric cars saw consistent growth throughout the year. We expect the electric vehicle market to experience a significant increase in 2020 as new models become available and supply constraints ease.

It is disappointing to see that CO2 emissions continued to rise. It is crucial that motorists choose the car that best suits their driving habits. Due to the confusion surrounding emissions, many high mileage drivers have purchased petrol cars which emit more CO2 than their modern diesel equivalents.

In 2019, the decline in new car registrations was partially offset by a strong used car market which provided profit opportunities for retailers who, in turn, offered excellent deals to their customers.

NFDA hopes that a more stable political environment will support the automotive retail sector and restore consumer confidence in 2020.