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New car registrations down in May

Here at Big Motoring World it seems to us that there are at least a couple of very good reasons for the decline in the UK’s new car market in May this year.

Uncertain times

Firstly, as the uncertainty around Brexit and the General Election in June swirled around, many potential car buyers simply decided to hold off buying a brand new vehicle until things have settled down politically. Now, with a hung parliament and Brexit negotiations underway, it will be interesting to see if the political uncertainty continues to have an effect. Secondly, the industry experienced a rush in car registrations in March - impacting on April and May sales - as a result of a rise in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) that was introduced on 1 April. A record 562,337 new vehicles were registered in March alone.

An expected fall

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, agrees. “We expected demand in the new car market to remain negative in May due to the pull-forward to March – which was an all-time record month – resulting from Vehicle Excise Duty reform,” he says. “Added to this, the general election was always likely to give many pause for thought and affect purchasing patterns in the short term. Although demand has fallen, it’s important to remember that the market remains at a very high level and, with a raft of new models packed with the latest low emission and connected technology coming to market this summer, we expect the market to remain strong over the year.”

A brighter outlook?

It’s possible then that the outlook is more positive that the headline figures suggest - and the news that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are on the rise again is certainly encouraging. May saw more than 8,000 alternatively fuelled cars registered which was a rise of 46.7 per cent. There was also good news from the business and fleet sectors too, with registrations up 5.3 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively. These are difficult times for the car industry, and it’s clear that the caution that is currently afflicting the new car market will continue for as long as the political climate remains so unclear.