Press release

SMMT new car registrations | July 2019

Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, provides his view on the latest new car registrations from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

While the figures show a 4.1% drop, these numbers don’t give a real representation of the market. The best way to describe it is, it’s like a calm swan on the surface but actually there’s been a furious amount of peddling by retailers and manufacturers just to get us here.

For one, the Real-world Driving Emissions (RDE) test deadline is in September which means vehicles that exceed emissions under the new rules can’t be sold as new cars after September. To help alleviate this, there has almost certainly been a high volume of stock which has been self-registered by retailers – and not actually sold to consumers. Although self-registrations are common practice to achieve retailer targets, dampened demand and these added stock pressures have made the task of reaching those targets even more of a battle than normal.

Brexit has a part to play too. The falling value of the pound either increases the imported prices of cars or directly reduces the profitability of around nine in 10 cars sold in the UK. So while retailers and manufacturers try to entice consumers with very strong offers, particularly to push out older stocks, these sales are increasing costly for them. Judging by the volatility of recent sales numbers, with some brands faring well but several others now well behind prior year, it’s clear that manufacturers face a decision about how sustainable such sales “push” can be in the longer term.

What now seems like a blip in AFV sales in June, the industry’s investment in electric vehicles is starting to reap the rewards now. While the availability and delivery lead times of some EVs is far from ideal on certain models, consumers’ appetite for these cars is high and registration figures are rising. However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must continue to incentivise and push these vehicles so that we can reach the ‘Road to Zero’ on time.

It’s clearly not all doom and gloom for the industry though. Despite the challenges thrown at UK car buyers, they remain resilient and still as keen to regularly renew their cars. It’s precisely this type of accelerated renewal of the car parc towards cleaner engines which is crucial to our chances of significantly improving air quality. More broadly, we know that overall consumer appetite remains strong, with 141 million searches taking place across our site last month alone, which compares to 134 million last year. Consumers in the UK are still looking for cars but they are getting savvier and looking for the best deal, particularly in this time of economic uncertainty.

Get set for forecourts opening on Monday with our latest #GetRetailReady #infographic revealing car buyer's thoughts and expectations in the new #retail landscape. https://t.co/iEsnRun6j8 https://t.co/OPHraHWwX1
Auto Trader Highly Rated is back for 2020! Our Highly Rated Award recognises those car retailers delivering the very best in customer service. Find out when we will be announcing the 2020 Award recipients and what criteria you need to meet to qualify. https://t.co/3KF1MkqhfV https://t.co/LpmE65LbMw
Ian Plummer was invited onto @BBCNews this morning to discuss the latest manufacturing figures from the @SMMT. He took the opportunity to highlight the pent up demand in the market & all the measures #retailers have been taking to get #retailready ahead of #showrooms reopening https://t.co/uNmpEYMatT
Thanks James, kind of you to say and great to hear you've found the insight beneficial https://t.co/63vAiNfMfG
To help retailers get back to selling vehicles as quickly as possible, we're launching a new marketing campaign as well as introducing some of the biggest changes to our site in recent years designed to drive more buyers to your ads. Find out more here: https://t.co/JvfE40zohI https://t.co/dqnoP6x3G0
With showrooms set to open on Monday, we’ve put together a handy #infographic to take you through car buyers' thoughts and expectations in the new #retail landscape. https://t.co/nqvKSP6X5t https://t.co/fUhwQ9j9Fq
Thanks to everyone for joining today's #webinar and of course thank you to our guest presenters @adamjt11 and @MikeHawesSMMT. Be sure to join next week and best of luck to those opening their doors next week #retailready https://t.co/qkAmfJw5kC
Catherine reveals the latest changes coming to the Auto Trader platform to improve the #userexperience and increase ad views and dwell time. https://t.co/EiIphIdQfH
Our latest consumer #marketing campaign is designed to give consumers confidence that they can join the car buying journey again and to push the message that #automotive is back in business!
Back to Catherine to talk about how we are helping consumers to get #retailready

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