The new car market “remains at historically high levels” despite recent headlines focusing on a fall in registrations over the previous year. 2017 had the third highest number of new car registrations in the last 10 years – behind only 2015 and 2016. Over 2.5m new vehicles were sold, with drivers benefiting from the safest, cleanest and most fuel-efficient technology available.

By comparison with other EU nations, the UK is behind only Germany in sales, and the market is the most diverse it has ever been. Over 350 different models are available, with fuel types and body styles to suit everyone. And, in 2018, 26 brand new models are due for release alongside 33 updates to existing models.

More statistics on the new car market can be found on the SMMT website.

 

AFVs skyrocket, petrol rises and diesel declines

The SMMT’s stats show petrol sales increased by 2.7% last year, rising to over 1.35m. There is also quickly increasing demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), as sales rose almost 35%, to nearly 120,000. While still only commanding a small percentage of the new car market, AFVs have risen to almost 5% of total sales, from just over 3% the previous year.

The fall in demand for diesel vehicles has had a major impact on the overall picture for 2017. There was a 17% drop, with just under 1.07m new diesel registrations, accounting for 42% of the market. This brought the overall sales figures down by 5.7% on the previous year, impacting private, fleet and business sales negatively.

“The decline in the new car market is concerning but it’s important to remember demand remains at historically high levels,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “Falling business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly taking a toll and confusing anti-diesel messages have caused many to hesitate before buying a new low emission diesel car.”

He added: “2017 has undoubtedly been a very volatile year and the lacklustre economic growth means that we expect a further weakening in the market for 2018. The upside for consumers, however, is some very, very competitive deals.”

Take a look back at the 2017 automotive market in our end-of-year round-up.

 

Which cars were the best sellers in 2017?

 

The most popular vehicle choices last year were, once again, superminis, small family cars and SUVs.

The figures from the SMMT include:

Ford Fiesta

94,533
Volkswagen Golf 74,605
Ford Focus 69,903
Nissan Qashqai 64,216
Vauxhall Corsa 52,772
Vauxhall Astra 49,370
Volkswagen Polo 47,855
MINI 47,669
Mercedes-Benz C Class 45,912
Mercedes-Benz A Class 43,717

 

We will continue to watch new car sales throughout 2018. To keep up-to-date, sign up to our free fortnightly e-newsletter.