Business and fleet vehicle registrations declined in 2018, according to the latest data released from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It is the second consecutive year of ‘substantial’ decreases in registrations – something that should act “as a wake-up call” for policy-makers.
In December, business and fleet vehicle registrations endured contrasting fortunes; the former saw 6,237 registered – up by almost 17%, while the latter suffered from a 7.9% decline, from over 90,000 in December 2017 to 83,120 a year later.
For the whole year though, both business and fleet registrations decreased, though their respective market shares altered only slightly and, in the case of business registrations, rose ever so slightly.
In 2018, only diesel vehicles suffered a greater decline than that felt by fleet; with just over 1.2 million registered, it represented a drop of 7.3%.
For businesses, 92,096 vehicles were registered over the course of 2018, but this was 5.6% less than the 97,564 of 2017.
One success story for the year came in the registration of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs); even in December, the occurrence of registrations increased by 6.1%.
In the whole of 2018, the picture was even brighter; at 141,270, registrations of AFVs rose sharply by more than a fifth (20.9%) from the 116,893 of 2017.
When the huge fall in diesel vehicle registrations is taken into account, it suggests that the automotive industry is responding to the challenges of ensuring cleaner air in the UK’s cities.
Demand in the overall market is worryingly down though. For December, 5.5% fewer vehicles were registered than the year before, and the picture for 2018 was even worse, with a fall of 6.8% recorded.
The fact that overall registrations are down, and the take-up of AFVs is continuing, has prompted Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, to call for government policy to support the industry.
He said: “Supportive, not punitive measures are needed to grow sales, because replacing older cars with new technologies, whether diesel, petrol, hybrid or plug-in, is good for the environment, the consumer, the industry and the exchequer.”