New car registrations declined by -1.6% in August, despite a surge in demand for electric cars.
Fleet sales suffered the biggest drop, with SMMT figures showing a fall of -3.5%, with a total of 48,500 vehicles registered last month.
The overall result is still strong, with 92,573 cars registered in August, just 1,500 less than in August 2018, a month that saw a significant boom due to the introduction of WLTP in September.
Year-to-date registrations now stand at -3.4% against 2018.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome. It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years. While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead.
“It’s a long road to zero and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake. To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.”
Diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, though at a slower pace than recently experienced (-12.2%), while petrol demand remained stable, up 1.0%.
Zero emission cars saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units as new models and some pent up demand boosted registrations, while 4,014 hybrid electric cars also joined UK roads, an uplift of 36.2%.
However, the decline in plug-in hybrid registrations continued, down -71.8% to just 907 vehicles.
Best selling cars in August 2019
The Ford Fiesta retained its position as the UK’s favourite model, followed by the VW Golf. Both hold their respective places on a year-to-date basis too.
August’s third best-selling car is identified as “other”. The majority of these are likely to be Tesla Model 3s, which started being delivered in the UK in June.
Tesla registrations are currently incorporated into the SMMT’s “other imports” category, rather than being singled out like most other manufacturers.
Volkswagen’s T-Roc and Tiguan SUVs also appeared in the top 10, helping the brand achieve the largest market share in August.