New car sales declined by 2.5% in the first nine months of 2019 due to uncertainty over Brexit, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Although September saw a humble year-on-year growth following a decline in the same month in 2018, the year-to-date data was in the negative implying no growth. Diesel vehicles were substantially not sold resulting in a market share loss of 6.1% compared to last year, while petrol saw 4.5% rise in sales. There was also a decline in the number of business vehicles purchased in September 2019, as compared to September 2018, compensated by a slight rise in the number of fleet and commercial vehicles purchased. Private demand stood stable, with a modest increase of 0.1%. Considering that, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV) saw meaningful increases in market share signifying consumers’ shift towards sustainability.
The figures are in contrast with other major EU markets which recorded double digits and lack political and economic uncertainty. SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “We need to restore stability to the market which means avoiding a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, moreover, agreeing a future relationship with the EU that avoids tariffs and barriers that could increase prices and reduce buyer choice.”
The automotive industry had already been anxious of a ‘no deal Brexit’ which would put hundreds if not thousands of jobs at risk and add billions to the cost of importing and exporting. Decline in sales would add to the devastating impact on the industry.