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UK passenger car registration decline resumes in June

05 July 2018 Ian Fletcher

IHS Markit perspective

  • Implications: After two months of growth, declines have returned to the UK passenger car market in June as the market slid by 3.5% y/y. This has not helped its performance in the first half of 2018 which is now down by 6.3% y/y.
  • Outlook: IHS Markit currently anticipates little let-up in the decline with a fall in passenger car sales of 5.1% y/y forecast to 2.41 million units as the market eases back from the previous record sales.

Following two successive months of growth, registrations in the UK market have faltered again during June. According to the latest data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), registrations declined by 3.5% year on year (y/y) to 234,945 units. The biggest drops were to fleet buyers this month, with registrations falling by 6.4% y/y to 129,977 units. However, private customers have also dipped 0.6% y/y to 94,694 units. Nevertheless, there has been some growth recorded amongst business customers, with their registrations growing by 11.3% y/y to 10,274 units.

The decline this month has done little to help its top-line registrations in the year to date (YTD). For the first half of 2018, registrations are now down by 6.3% y/y to 1,313,994 units.

The latest data has again shown a customer swing away from diesel passenger cars. During the month, registration volumes have fallen by 28.2% y/y to 74,361 units, which has represented a fall in its market share from 42.5% to 31.7%. The decline in demand for this fuel-type during the first half of the year has been even steeper, contracting 30.2% y/y to 428,612 units. This contrasts with a gain in sales volumes for gasoline (petrol)-fuelled passenger cars of 12.3% y/y to 145,035 units, which has represented an increase in market share from 53.1% to 61.7%. As a result, gasoline has also recorded an increase in the YTD of 11.4% y/y to 812,535 units. There has also been a rise in alternatively fuelled passenger cars during the month, with the total number of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs) and others jumping by 45% y/y to 15,549 units. However, the overall market share stood at just 6.6%. In the YTD, alternative fuelled vehicles have grown by 24.2% y/y to 72,847 units.

IHS Markit currently anticipates little let-up in the decline with a fall in passenger car sales of 5.1% y/y forecast to 2.41 million units as we see an easing back from the previous record sales. Furthermore, we expect additional falls in 2019, before an upswing begins in 2020.

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