Following the disappointing car sales figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, some businesses at the heart of the motor industry have responded and commented:
Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) commented on the December SMMT figures:
“In 2018 the new vehicle market declined 6.8%. This is largely due to the introduction of Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) in the important month of September and the market adjusting to the change for the rest of Q4. In 2019, the used car market is expected to remain strong and the improving supply dynamics of the EV market are likely to drive innovation and growth in the sector.”
Ashley Barnett, Head of Consultancy at Lex Autolease:
“2018 was widely acknowledged as a challenging year for the new car market, with fleets in particular impacted by changes to emissions testing and an increasingly complex tax regime. It’s therefore no surprise to see that total registrations are down on 2017 – and interesting also to highlight a 4.4% decrease in total registrations compared to 2014. This supports the fact that fleets have been hardest hit, based on the average 48-month replacement cycle. Drivers that were due to renew last year evidently decided against it and we’ve seen an increase in contract extensions as a result.
“It’s positive that alternatively-fuelled vehicles had a strong year with registration growth of over 20%, however it’s not just plug-in vehicles that can contribute towards sustainability targets. Fewer vehicles overall being registered means that the UK fleet is ageing, and that, by nature, means that it isn’t as efficient as it could be – take-up of the latest clean technology across all fuel types is being delayed as people continue to drive older, less efficient vehicles. For the country’s fleet to be as sustainable as possible, it’s also important that every driver chooses the right vehicle to suit their specific requirements, which, for high mileage motorway users, could be an RDE2-compliant diesel or the newest Euro 6 diesels.
“We will be taking part in the consultation on WLTP and are urging customers to do the same. To support fleets and encourage new orders, it’s important to minimise any increases in company car tax and VED as a result of WLTP. Clarity on company car tax is also needed post 2020/21 so that fleets can fulfil their potential to make a significant contribution towards a cleaner, greener future for the UK.”
Jon Lawes, Managing Director, Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions:
“A challenging year for the UK car industry has nevertheless seen the transition towards alternatively fueled vehicles, which now represent 6% of the overall market, gain pace.
“Overcoming obstacles to the commercial adoption of AFVs is now critical to maintain and accelerate momentum in 2019 – our own research found that 73% of fleet owners, who experienced the largest decline in new registrations last year, believe the Government should do more to support the move to AFVs.
“Initiatives such as Optimise Prime, the world’s biggest trial of commercial electric vehicles, are an important part of addressing shortcomings in charging infrastructure and encouraging corporate and government investment.”