EVs and hybrids show growth in falling 2018 new car market

Published:  07 January, 2019

EVs and hybrids rose in popularity during 2018 in what was otherwise a very challenging market for new car sales, according to the latest figures released today (Monday 7 January) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The UK new car market declined by 6.8% in 2018, with annual registrations falling for a second year to 2,367,147 units. A 5.5% decline in December capped a turbulent year.   The biggest volume decline was seen in the diesel sector, down 29.6% in 2018, with the volume loss equivalent to 180% of the overall market’s decline. December marked the 21st consecutive month of decline for the fuel type.

While diesel was falling, petrol vehicle sales grew by 8.7%, and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AVF) went up by 20.9%. Within AFV, petrol electric hybrids remained the most popular choice, up +21.3% to 81,156 units. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) also recorded a 24.9% boost during the year, but growth may be slowing following the removal of the Government's plug-in car grant in October. Pure electric cars grew 13.8% in the year. However, with just 15,474 registered, they still make up only 0.7% of the market.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:  “A second year of substantial decline is a major concern, as falling consumer confidence, confusing fiscal and policy messages and shortages due to regulatory changes have combined to create a highly turbulent market. The industry is facing ever-tougher environmental targets against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty that is weakening demand so these figures should act as a wake-up call for policy makers. Supportive, not punitive measures are needed to grow sales, because replacing older cars with new technologies, whether diesel, petrol, hybrid or plug-in, is good for the environment, the consumer, the industry and the exchequer.”

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