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UK new car market declines in September

car-manufacturingDemand for new cars declines in September as consumer and business confidence falls

 

  • UK new car market falls for sixth consecutive month in September – down -9.3% to 426,170 units.
  • First time the important September market has fallen in six years.1
  • Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continues to accelerate, up 41.0% last month, while petrol falls -1.2% and diesel declines -21.7%.

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The UK new car market declined for a sixth consecutive month in September, with 426,170 new units registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations fell by -9.3% in this key month, as economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans led to a fall in consumer confidence.

Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell in September, down -5.2%, -10.1% and -8.8% respectively. Meanwhile, registrations fell across all body types except dual-purpose, which grew 2.4%. The biggest declines were seen at opposite ends of the market with both luxury saloons and superminis falling -36.4% and 21.2% respectively.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued to accelerate in September however, surging 41.0% in the month and 34.6% year-to-date, with nearly 95,000 leaving forecourts this year. However, this couldn’t compensate for declines in registrations of petrol cars, down -1.2%, and, especially, diesel which fell for the sixth consecutive month, down -21.7%.

Confusion surrounding air quality plans has inevitably led to a drop in consumer and business demand for diesel vehicles, which is undermining the roll out of the latest low emissions models and thwarting the ambitions of both industry and government to meet challenging CO2 targets. Indeed, if new diesel registrations continue on this negative trend, UK average new car CO2 levels could actually rise this year, the first time such an increase would have occurred since average CO2 emissions were recorded.2 So far this year 485,067 diesel vehicles have been produced in the UK, and maintaining strong demand for the latest new diesel vehicles is essential for the health of the UK automotive sector that employs over 814,000 people.

Year-to-date, new car registrations have fallen -3.9%. But, overall, the market remains at a historically high levels with over 2 million vehicles hitting UK roads so far this year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern. Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases. The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges. Manufacturers’ scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities.

UK car manufacturing falls in April, but YTD output remains strongest for 17 years

car-manufacturing


  • Car output falls 18.2% as Easter bank holiday results in fewer manufacturing days.
  • Year-to-date production rises 1.0% to almost 600,000 units – the highest level since 2000.
  • SMMT calls for the newly elected government to prioritise UK Automotive needs to secure future growth.

UK car manufacturing fell in April, according to figures released by SMMT. 122,116 cars were made in the month, a 18.2% decrease on April 2016, as the late Easter bank holiday affected production.

Despite the decline, year-to-date production remains strong with 593,796 cars made so far in 2017 – a 1.0% increase on the same period last year – reaching its highest level for the first four months of the year since 2000.

Demand from overseas buyers continues to drive growth, up 3.5% so far this year and offsetting a fall at home of 7.0%. In total 76.8% of all cars made in the UK since January have been shipped abroad, with the majority going into the EU.

The news comes as SMMT publishes its priorities for the next government following the general election in June. UK Automotive Priorities, Securing the Strength of the UK Automotive Industry 2017 – 2022 sets out what is required to ensure the ongoing success of a crucial sector that supports 814,000 jobs nationwide, one that has a turnover of £71.6 billion every year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

“Car production fell significantly in April due to the later Easter bank holiday weekend which reduced the number of active production days that month and also due to unplanned production adjustments. Overall, British car manufacturing remains in good health with the production outlook still very positive and significant new models due to go into UK production shortly. To guarantee future growth and investment into our industry and its vital supply chain, however, we need the next government to safeguard the conditions that have made us globally competitive, keeping us open and trading and delivering an ambitious industrial strategy for our sector.”

UK Automotive Priorities 2017- 2022

  1. A globally competitive business environment to support investment, growth and job creation.
  2. A new trading relationship with the EU which safeguards the interests of UK Automotive.
  3. An ambitious industrial strategy delivering for automotive as a strategic sector.
  4. A holistic strategy to support sustainable mobility and ULEV uptake.
  5. Effective policies to ensure the UK secures the benefits of digitalisation.

Download UK Automotive Priorities, Securing the Strength of the UK Automotive Industry 2017 – 2022 here.

Source: SMMT

17 year high for British car manufacturing as global demand hits record levels

  • 7 million cars built in the UK in 2016, an increase of 8.5% and the highest output for 17 years.
  • Exports at record levels for second consecutive year as more than 1.35 million cars shipped worldwide.
  • More than one in two cars exported to Europe, our single biggest trading partner, with demand up 7.5%.
  • Growth driven by multi billion pound investments in previous years – not post Brexit bounce.

UK car production achieved a 17-year high in 2016, according to the latest figures published by SMMT. 1,722,698 vehicles rolled off production lines last year from some 15 manufacturers,1 an 8.5% uplift on total production in 2015 – and the highest output since 1999.2

More cars are now being exported from Britain than ever before, the result of investments made over recent years in world-class production facilities, cutting-edge design and technology and one of Europe’s most highly skilled and productive workforces. Ten brand new car models began production in the UK last year, nine of them from premium brands which has helped make the UK the second biggest producer of premium cars after Germany and the third biggest car producer in Europe.3  Total committed investment annoncements in the automotive sector in 2016 were approximately £1.66 billion across a number of companies. This figure is down from  £2.5 billion in 2015.

Production growth was predominantly driven by overseas demand, with global appetite for British-built cars rising by 10.3% to an all-time high of 1,354,216 – a second consecutive annual record. Around eight out of every 10 cars manufactured in the UK is now exported, bound for one of 160 markets worldwide.

It was continuing economic recovery across Europe, however, that accounted for the bulk of the growth. Exports to the rest of the EU grew 7.5% to 758,680 and accounted for more than half of all UK car exports. Furthermore, Europe supplies the majority of components within UK-built vehicles, underlining the critical importance of tariff and barrier-free trade to future UK automotive production.

Growth was strong across a number of markets, notably the US – the UK’s biggest export destination after the EU – where demand rose by almost half (47.2%) meaning it now accounts for around 14.5% of all UK car exports. Notable uplifts were also seen in Turkey, Japan and Canada whilst China, third on the list of export markets, grew by a more modest 3.1% with 88,610 vehicles exported last year.

Domestic demand for UK built cars also grew last year, up 2.4% in the year, and the UK remains the second largest car market in Europe, again after Germany.4 One in seven new cars registered by UK buyers is now made in Britain, up from one in eight three years ago.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The tremendous growth in UK production is testament to the global competitiveness of the UK automotive sector. High class engineering, advanced technology and a workforce committed to quality have helped turn around the industry, making the UK among the most productive places in Europe to make cars. Significant investment in new plants and products over the past few years has driven this growth, not a post-Brexit bounce. We want trade deals but they must be the right deals, not rushed deals. Failure to do so could damage UK automotive manufacturing beyond repair.

  1. The UK’s 15 manufacturing plants are owned by a range of independent and multi-national-owned companies: Aston Martin (Gaydon); Bentley (Crewe); Caterham (Dartford); Honda (Swindon); Jaguar Land Rover (Castle Bromwich, Solihull, Halewood); Lotus (Norwich); McLaren (Woking); Mini (Oxford); Morgan (Malvern); Nissan (Sunderland); Rolls Royce (Goodwood); Toyota (Burnaston); Vauxhall (Ellesmere Port).
  2. 1,799,004 cars were produced in the UK in 1999.
  3. New UK models starting production in 2016: Aston Martin DB11; Bentley Bentayga; Jaguar F-Pace; Infiniti Q30; Infiniti QX30; Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible; McLaren 540; McLaren 570; Rolls Royce Dawn; Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer.
  4. ACEA data for 2016.

White remains UK’s favourite new car colour but buyers heading back to black

  • White UK’s favourite new car colour for fourth consecutive year, but demand falls for the first time since 2005 – down -2.1%.
  • 2016 sees highest number of black cars registered in the UK since 2007 – 542,862.
  • Yellow back in top 10, with 12,431 cars registered – double the figure from five years ago.

White maintained its position as the UK’s most popular new car colour for the fourth year in a row in 2016, according to data released by SMMT. More than half a million new car buyers chose the colour last year – a fifth of all registrations – although figures show its popularity is starting to fade with demand falling -2.1%, the first drop since 2005.

White and black are the nation’s two favourite car colours – of the 2.69 million new cars registered in 2016, white (552,329) and black (542,862) took more than 40% market share. While white maintained its lead in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in England it was overtaken by black as the new car colour of choice.

Nationally, the third and fourth most popular colours were grey and blue, both gaining market share. Meanwhile, yellow cars appeared in the top 10 for the first time since 2013 at the expense of mauve, which dropped to 11th place.

Regionally, black topped the chart in the South East while also overtaking white as the favourite new car colour in East Anglia and the West Midlands. However, white continued to be most popular across the rest of the country, with buyers in the South West, East Anglia, East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North all following the national trend.

New car colours: Biggest winners and losers in 2016

Going up

  • Pink may still be a niche colour choice, but last year demand grew 82.7% to 3,527 units.
  • A 44% rise in demand for Bronze cars saw a record 8,902 people spec the colour in 2016.
  • Turquoise’s popularity grew fourfold last year, from just 792 registrations in 2015 to 2,718.

Going down

  • Is brown’s time in the top 10 coming to an end? Demand fell -40.1%, dropping it one place to ninth.
  • Appetite for beige fell -27.6% to under 10,000 for the first time since 2000 with 8,426 cars registered.
  • Silver saw the biggest volume decline, falling 22,209, with 273,220 buyers choosing it compared with 843,870 in its heyday back in 2004.

Source: SMMT