Sales drop valued at £2.6bn

New analysis from AA Cars, the AA’s used car website, has put a value of £2.6bn on the 5.7% fall in new registrations, as published earlier this month by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

Further research by AA Cars has explored the key reasons underpinning this decline in new car sales. The AA-Populus poll, which surveyed almost 20,000 drivers, found that 31% of motorists blamed this change primarily on rising living costs (31%), while 13% of drivers believed the key cause for the downturn in new car sales was due to mixed messages from the government.

Seven years of government austerity measures were thought to be the top reason for the drop off in new car registrations by 12% of motorists, while one in 10 (10%) named government policy on diesel vehicles as the key cause.

Other factors highlighted by drivers were higher fuel and insurance costs (eight per cent), Brexit uncertainty (six per cent), the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 (four per cent) and concerns about new cars depreciating quickly (three per cent).

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, said, ‘We know that new car sales had been in decline for much of 2017, but to find that this has cost the industry, consumers and the economy somewhere in the region of £2.6 billion is disappointing and reflects the full impact of this downturn.

‘With drivers suggesting all manner of reasons for the downturn in sales, this research just goes to show just how confused the new car market has become. The government must act soon to ensure this trend doesn’t continue throughout 2018. With widespread uncertainty rocking the new car market at a time when consumer spending is particularly squeezed, drivers need reassurance about their purchasing decisions.’