What Brexit? New car registrations edge up in July as demand for hybrids stays strong

Emma Haslett
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UK car demand edged up in July (Source: Getty)

If car dealers had been worried about a long-term impact from the Brexit vote, that may have been misplaced.

Figures published this morning showed new car registrations rose 0.1 per cent to 178,523 units in July.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the number of new cars registered so far in 2016 was just shy of 1.6m, 2.8 per cent higher than the figure reported this time last year.

Demand for alternative fuel vehicles - hybrid and electric vehicles - was up 24.7 per cent on last year, although their total market share was still pretty low, at 2.4 per cent of all vehicles.

Meanwhile, it looks like the diesel emissions scandal has taken its toll: registrations of new diesel vehicles fell 1.1 per cent, although diesel will has the largest share of the market, at 49.1 per cent.

As the chart below suggests, though, after four successive years of steep annual rises, July's rise was a little disappointing.

"After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015 the market is showing signs of cooling," admitted Mike Hawes, SMMT's chief executive.

"The automotive market is a vital part of the British economy and it’s important government delivers the economic conditions which instil business and consumer confidence."

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, suggested consumers were beginning to shake off their post-Brexit malaise.

“Many dealers have experienced an improvement on retail demand in July compared to the immediate post Brexit situation. The UK remains a large market for the EU and performance for the year ahead is expected to be in line with market expectations.”

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