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Big drop in new UK car Registrations in 2017 – £2.6 billion loss to economy

Simon Benson

New cars fell 5.7 percent in 2017, leading to an estimated £2.6 billion loss of revenue which hits the economy. Contributor Simon Benson, Director of Motoring Services – AA Cars.

The top reasons cited by British motorists for this downturn include rising living costs (31 percent) and mixed messages from the government (13 percent). A further 12 percent believe seven years of government austerity measures has affected sales most, while 10 percent blamed government policy on diesel vehicles

Figures published earlier this month by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) revealed that registrations of new cars fell 5.7 percent in 2017 – resulting in an estimated £2.6 billion loss of revenue, according to new analysis from AA Cars, the AA’s used car website.

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 percent of motorists blamed this change primarily on rising living costs (31 percent), while 13 percent 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 percent of motorists, while one in 10 (10 percent) named government policy on diesel vehicles as the key cause. Other factors highlighted by drivers were higher fuel and insurance costs (8 percent), Brexit uncertainty (6 percent), the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 (4 percent) and concerns about new cars depreciating quickly (3 percent).

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, says: “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.”

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