New car registrations down 4.1% in April

Demand for new cars fell 4.1% last month, the automotive industry has said.

Some 161,000 new cars were registered last month compared with 168,000 during April 2018, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

It was the second worst April performance since 2012.

Private and business registrations fell by 10.3% and 32.7% respectively during the month, while fleet sales rose by 2.9%.

Sales of petrol and diesel models dropped by 3.0% and 9.4% year-on-year respectively last month.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles, such as hybrids and pure electrics, increased by 12.7% to take a market share of 6.4%.

There has been growing concern about the impact of diesel car emissions on air quality, and uncertainty about what taxes and restrictions will be introduced on the vehicles.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “While it’s great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero.

“Industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition, providing ever cleaner cars to suit every need.

“We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers.

“This includes investment in infrastructure and long term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”

Government grants for new low-emission cars were slashed in October last year, meaning hybrid models are no longer eligible for the scheme.

Motoring groups have warned that decision will leave the UK struggling to meet targets to reduce vehicle emissions.

A report by the Committee on Climate Change published last week warned that the proposed 2040 date for the phasing-out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans is too late, and recommended bringing it forward to 2030, or at the latest 2035.

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