The slump we all saw coming

  08 May 2017

On Thursday, the SMMT’s monthly new car registration figures showed the market had dropped by a fifth in April.

The thing to remember is that this wasn’t a surprise. Plenty of authoritative market analysts said that if sales were going to tail off, it would happen immediately after the new VED regime kicked in.

While a 19.8% drop is alarming at first glance, the continued upward march of new car registrations clearly wasn’t going to carry on forever. April is also made to look worse by the all-time record month for new car sales that came before it – a great deal of which was down to buyers registering vehicles earlier than they normally would have to avoid the tax hike.

Contextually, last month was small potatoes – a blip on the sales chart. Even the pro-industry SMMT admitted that last month was “always going to be much slower”, and also mentioned the late Easter, which took a chunk out of sales time.

The greater acid test by far will be the UK new car market’s performance during the rest of this year and, more pertinently, the remainder of the decade.

Jack Carfrae

Acting editor

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