'Deeply concerning' slide in Scottish new car sales

Alternatively fuelled cars such as hybrids and battery electrics took a market share of 9.9 per cent, which is the highest on record. Picture: Jon Savage
Alternatively fuelled cars such as hybrids and battery electrics took a market share of 9.9 per cent, which is the highest on record. Picture: Jon Savage
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A sharp fall in sales of new cars north of the Border has been described as “deeply concerning” by industry leaders.

New figures show that there was a 16.2 per cent slide in sales last month with 2,014 fewer vehicles being registered in the period compared with October 2018.

October's best sellers. Image: SMMT

October's best sellers. Image: SMMT

Every area of Scotland produced a negative result, the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) noted, with the Lothians suffering a 25 per cent year-on-year fall and Central Scotland reporting the smallest decline, at 5.8 per cent.

The Scottish breakout comes after it emerged that demand for new cars UK-wide fell 6.7 per cent last month. Some 10,348 fewer cars were registered in October than during the same month in 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Sandy Burgess, SMTA chief executive, said: “There is no way that these results can be described as anything other than deeply concerning for our industry and the wider retail community in Scotland. The continued political unrest and subsequent insecurity has made its mark on many consumers.

“We are seeing replacement vehicle cycles extending in the private sector and the business sector is making do with older, less efficient vehicles simply because they lack the general confidence in the current situation to make such long-term big-ticket purchases or commitments.

“We genuinely hope that the outcome of the upcoming general election brings a government with the stability and capability required to ensure our retailer members across Scotland and the rest of the UK can get on with their business.”

The Ford Fiesta was the best seller while hybrid registrations and sales of pure electrics continued to grow north of the Border, with the category accounting for about 10 per cent of the market.

UK-wide picture

New car sales were stuck in reverse gear last month, new industry figures reveal, despite alternatively fuelled vehicles grabbing a record market share.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 10,348 fewer cars were registered across the UK in October than during the same month in 2018 - a 6.7 per cent fall. It reflects a tough environment for consumers and fleet buyers as economic and political uncertainty continue to dent confidence.

Sales of diesel models were down 28.3 per cent, continuing the recent pattern of decline, while petrol cars fell by 3.2 per cent.

Alternatively fuelled cars such as hybrids and pure electrics grabbed a market share of 9.9 per cent, which is the highest on record.

Year-to-date figures show the new car market is down 2.9 per cent during the first ten months of the year compared with 2018.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies.

“The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline.”

Charles Butler, motoring expert at www.carwow.co.uk, said: “Would-be new car buyers assaulted by noise in the market about price fluctuations have chosen the best action to be to take no action and defer, and this is bad news for what has been an incredibly sluggish year for the industry.

“Diesel sales continued to fall; no doubt partly driven by the increased environmental awareness that has seen alternatively fuelled vehicles take a record market share.”

James Fairclough, chief executive at AA Cars, added: “It is incredibly disappointing to see overall sales have gone into reverse between September and October, and to such a great extent.”

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