Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Economy | By

Fleet sales fall 7.3% in 2018 as new vehicle emissions rise

Fleet sales fall 7.3% in 2018 as new vehicle emissions rise

Fleet sales were down more than 7% last year, as the new vehicle market suffered its worst performance in five years.

As part of a 6.8% fall in the overall market, the number of registrations to fleets was down 7.3%, compared with a 6.4% fall in private registrations.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 52,533 new cars were registered in 2018, down from 54,356 the previous year.

This comes on the back of a 7.9% downturn in fleet registrations for December, while private registrations were down 3.8% and sub-25 business registrations rose by 16.8%.

Monthly figures for December have also been released, showing an overall 5.5% market decline year-on-year.

Looking at vehicle types, 2018 registrations fell across all segments bar the dual objective category, which grew by +9.1% to take a fifth of the market (21.2%).

Diesel cars typically produce less Carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles.


Barnett told Fleet News that it was "positive" that alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) had a strong year with registration growth of over 20%. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) enjoyed a 24.9 per cent increase over the year, though SMMT said growth is slowing following the removal of the government's plug-in auto grant in October. While part of this fleet average Carbon dioxide increase was due to segment shift and the introduction of the new, more onerous WLTP test which produces higher figures, the move away from diesels is having a significant impact.

The increase in Carbon dioxide will not only impact on carmakers trying to meet emission targets but will also have an impact on government climate change targets.

The SMMT said last year's fall in sales - the second consecutive year the market has declined - was largely down to uncertainty over Brexit and a shortage in supply of some vehicles, due to a new emissions testing scheme. "Supportive, not punitive measures are needed to grow sales, because replacing older cars with new technologies, whether diesel, petrol, hybrid or plug-in, is good for the environment, the consumer, the industry and the exchequer".

In the United Kingdom as a whole the sales decline was larger, down by nearly 7%.

"Rising residual values for electric vehicles will significantly help future new AFV sales in 2019 and beyond".

"Although CO2 emissions increased for a second year, more people are buying battery electric vehicles, and whilst these vehicles continue to be a small percentage of overall sales, this is increasing as the technology becomes better known and range anxiety decreases".

"If you speak to most manufacturers and [ask], "What are the two most important factors in selling these new types of vehicles, ' they'll say 'incentives that are available, and [currency] exchange rates", he said.

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