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New car sales increase...despite Brexit

Patrick Christys
Mar 5, 2019


The motor industry is revving up - new car sales rose by 1.4% in February.

It's optimistic news for the motor industry and no doubt another 'despite Brexit' story for the tabloid press.

In total, 1,164 more vehicles were registered compared to February 2018, bringing the total of new car registrations to 81,969, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

February’s increase was the first year-on-year increase in car sales since last August.

One of the most dramatic increases saw petrol car sales increase by 8.3% year-on-year last month.

But it's the car of the eco-warrior that's causing a surge in sales.

Green cars such as electrics and hybrids, which rose 34% to take a market share of 5.5%, from 4.2% a year ago.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said February's ‘marginal’ increase was encouraging but warned over the Government’s ‘punitive’ measures on green cars.

‘The recent removal of the plug-in car grant from plug-in hybrids was a backward step and sends entirely the wrong message,’ he said.

‘Supportive, not punitive, measures are needed, else ambitions will never be realised.’

James Fairclough, chief executive of used car dealer AA cars, said: ‘Whether drivers were spurred on by the mildest February in decades or were just keen to lockdown a deal before the uncertainty of the upcoming months, new car sales jumped by 1.4% on last year.’ 

He added: ‘While the withdrawal of government grants for plug-in hybrid vehicles and a winding down of incentives for electrics is doing little to impact demand for these cars at this stage, it’s important that the momentum in this area isn’t stifled by cost-cutting exercises.

‘Undoubtedly the year ahead will provide a challenging sales environment for big ticket item retailers.’ 

The new figures showed that private car sales rose for the second month in a row, by 4.3%.

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