Volumes experience steepest decline in 18 months. New car sales plummeted by 13 per cent in July – the steepest decline since December 2006. The July total of 153,420 units was down 13.4 per cent year-on-year, as sales in both the private and fleet sector fell.
Year-to-date sales are now down 3 per cent on 2007 figures at 1.4 million units.
Car dealers have already been feeling the pinch after sales dropped in May and June, and this is the latest blow to hit the market after it made a resilient start to the year.
The SMMT admitted that the shortfall was worse than expected, and urged the government to help encourage motorists to return to the sector.
“The 13 per cent decline reflects the continued deterioration in consumer confidence being experienced across the economy. Rising fuel and household bills, alongside falling house prices are making consumers reluctant to commit to new expenditure”, said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
“Vehicle manufacturers are doing their bit to support consumers. Industry needs the support of the government in order to encourage the uptake of lower-emitting vehicles and ultimately lower the cost of motoring for consumers”, he added.
Diesel sales also fell for the first time since February 2007, recording a 6.4 per cent drop.
Despite the decline, sales of oil burners are ahead of last year with year-to-date growth of 7.3 per cent.