UK Auto Sales Drop to Five-Year Low in First Half

Driven by Diesel Death-Spiral, “decline in buyer confidence,” plunging sales of plug-in hybrids. But EV sales soar.

The growth in sales of gasoline-powered vehicles has picked up some of the slack from the diesel death spiral, but it’s not nearly enough. Since 2016, the first-half sales of gasoline vehicles have grown by 146,473, while sales of diesel powered passenger vehicles have fallen by 335,000 units, leaving a deficit of around 190,000 vehicles.

Sales of new passenger vehicles, as measured by registrations, fell 4.9% in June from a year earlier in the UK, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The UK is the second largest auto market in the EU, behind Germany. Total sales in the first half of 2019 dropped 3.4% year-over-year, driven by the ongoing collapse in diesel sales. But sales of gasoline vehicles rose 3.5% in the first half, and sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) soared 60%.

It is the third year in a row of declining first-half sales for the UK’s automotive sector. Since the peak in the first half of 2016, registrations have dropped 10.6%, falling below 2014 levels. These registrations include leases (dealer sells to leasing company, which leases it to the customer):

The growth in sales of gasoline-powered vehicles has picked up some of the slack from the diesel death spiral, but it’s not nearly enough. Since 2016, the first-half sales of gasoline vehicles have grown by 146,473, while sales of diesel powered passenger vehicles have fallen by 335,000 units, leaving a deficit of around 190,000 vehicles.

The diesel death spiral, not only in the UK but in Europe more generally, is a consequence of endless disclosures since 2015 of industry-wide diesel emissions fraud. In June, diesel sales fell for the 27th consecutive month in the UK. In the first half of 2019, diesel sales plunged 19.4% year-over-year, after having already plunged 30% in the first half of 2018. During the three years since hitting the peak of 680,668 units in the first half of 2016, diesel sales have collapsed by 50%, to just 344,877 units:

Sales of gasoline vehicles hit a new record of 840,436 in the first half of 2016. This was up 21% from 2016, but not nearly enough to compensate for the 50% collapse of diesel vehicle sales:

From January through June, sales fell for all three customer types: private customers (-4.8%), fleets (-2.5%), and businesses (-37.1%). There were also declines across every vehicle segment, except Dual Purpose which grew 7.3% year-to-date to take 22.6% of the market.

The so-called “supermini” (a small robust car) remains Britain’s favorite vehicle type, accounting for 31% of all registrations in the first six months…

Continue reading on Wolf Street

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s