New car demand falls and plug-in hybrids take a hit

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The new car market is down by 4.1 per cent in April with 161,064 units registered and alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations has risen by 12.7 per cent but zero emission-capable plug-in hybrids have fallen by more than a third, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Private registrations have fallen by 10.3 per cent but fleet demand is up 2.9 per cent with businesses registering 2,498 more cars than in April 2018.

Diesel registrations have fallen by 9.4 per cent and demand for petrol has dropped by 3 per cent. Alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations are up 12.7 per cent, with 10,254 leaving showrooms. Petrol electric hybrids are up 31.1 per cent to 6,810 units and remain the most popular choice. Battery electric cars have jumped from 929 to 1,517 units, which still only represents 0.9 per cent of the market.

However, zero emission-capable plug-in hybrids experienced a 34.4 per cent drop in April, this is a down 20.4 per cent year-to-date. SMMT believes this is demonstrative of the consequences of prematurely removing upfront purchase incentives before the market is ready.

“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,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“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.”