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New car sales slump, but electric vehicles are a bright spot

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Car registrations are down 3.4% as Brexit, the economic slowdown, and confusion over fuel types dampen consumers’ appetite for new cars.

In its new report Britain Under the Bonnet, Close Brothers Motor Finance found the proportion of drivers planning on buying a used car rather than a new car has dramatically increased.

The report showed 2.4m drivers have changed their minds about buying a new car since last year, opting for a used car instead, with almost half saying that Brexit had had a negative influence.

Dealers recognise the problem with 50% saying they see Brexit as a threat – doubling in 6 months

49% of drivers said they would opt for a used car next – up from 41% a year ago; in the meantime, only 34% were considering a new car – a decrease of 8%.

As the government continues to target diesel engines, 18% of drivers said they were put off buying a car in 2019 because of their confusion about fuel type. Almost one in four diesel drivers (24%) said they were put off because they were unclear about what the costs will be to own a diesel car in the future

Seán Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “This fall in car sales will come as something of a surprise to the sector, which was expecting a slight increase on last year’s low figures. Registrations continue to slump, remaining far lower than those of two years ago when we saw a spike as the VED road tax changes took effect. Consumer confidence in the face of Brexit uncertainty is certainly not what it was a few years ago, and we still have some road ahead before we reach those levels again.

“There is cause for optimism though. For the past two months, we’ve seen gradual improvements in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles. Appetite is clearly there, and the wheels are still turning.”


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