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The new car market declined by 15.7% compared with the particularly strong March last year, which was distorted by the Vehicle Excise Duty increase. Positively, NFDA members are seeing extremely strong sales of used 3-to-5-year-old vehicles, which continue to contribute to the health of their businesses.
New passenger car registrations in the UK saw a decline of -15.7% in March with 474,069 units which marked the fourth biggest March ever. Year to date the market is -12.4% down. Demand for petrol cars rose slightly at 0.5%, diesel was down 37.2% and alternative fuel vehicles grew by 5.7%. Overall in 2018, a decline of between 5 and 7% is predicted.
Despite the decline in new car sales, alongside a robust used car market, retailers also report strong aftersales demand with more motorists getting their cars serviced and repaired at franchised dealerships.
NFDA estimates that a decline of 13% in the overall March 2018 market could be attributed to the changes in Vehicle Excise Duty rates introduced in April last year which prompted consumers to pull forward their purchases into March 2017. Yearly, the market is still expected to perform in line with initial predictions. We expect the market to start picking up from April and remain steady throughout the remainder of the year.
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