UK car sales see biggest drop in 10 years

2018 saw the biggest drop in UK car sales since 2008 as uncertainty about Brexit and low consumer confidence hit the market in what experts are calling “something of a perfect storm”.

Statistics released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a 6.8% drop in car sales from 2017 with just 2.36 million cars registered last year – the biggest year on year drop since an 11% decrease ten years ago.

Diesel vehicles took the biggest hit in 2018 with 30% fewer cars sold last year. This drop was fuelled by tougher restrictions and tax changes around vehicle emissions, specifically targeted at tackling the high levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) produced by diesel cars.

Diesel cars now make up less than 32% of the car market as drivers look to avoid the extra charges that come with buying Diesel.

Beyond this, the usual fears and uncertainness surrounding Brexit is being blamed for the large drop in sales. SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes believes there is no doubt that Brexit has caused a big crisis in confidence from both consumers and businesses:

“The propensity for a big-ticket purchase is down – and the second-biggest ticket purchase is a new car.”

The industry trade body also expressed serious concerns should there be a no-deal Brexit.

“No deal would be a catastrophe for this industry … Theresa May’s deal would give us breathing space – It’s about damage limitation.”

Other stats released by the SMMT revealed that the Ford Fiesta was the best selling car in the UK in 2018 with just under 96,000 sold. Quite a way behind was the Volkswagen Golf with almost 65,000 sales.

The top 10 cars sold last year were:

1. Ford Fiesta
2. Volkswagen Golf
3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Nissan Qashqai
5. Ford Focus
6. Volkswagen Polo
7. Mini
8. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
9. Ford Kuga
10. Kia Sportage

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