2020: An outlook on the year ahead

As we enter an exciting new decade for the automotive industry, we find ourselves looking ahead to gauge what’s to come from this pivotal time for the sector. However, we can never truly move forward unless we reflect on what has been.

 As you may be aware, the market figures from December 2019 have just been released, which has provided some interesting data. We have broken down the key statistics that we have seen from the SMMT and Auto-Retail, as below, which we found most interesting:

  • With total new car registrations falling 2.4% in 2019 to hit a year total of 2.31m units, and within this retail registrations falling 3.2%, the overall outcome delivers the dampening headline that the new car market has hit a six-year low.
  • Total registrations, however, in December (as a stand-alone month) grew by 3.4%, with fleet up by 7.3%. Retail sales were almost unchanged (up 0.1%) to take 36.8% of the market. 
  • Fleet finished up 0.8% for the year. “Business” sales; (inclusive of internal sales e.g. demos, courtesy cars) represented 32k of the 56k sales decline in 2019; the balance in drop in sales of 24k in private sales.
  • Interestingly, petrol registrations were found to be up 32k and 2.2% for the year.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles were up 84k with a total of 229k registrations; just under 10% of the market; with BEV (pure electric) at 38k still only represents 1.64%. The introduction of further MHEV models in 2019 and significantly diesel derivatives helped to grow sector sales by 45k in the year.
  • During 2019, the sectors that saw significant falls were diesels (-21.8%) and plug-in hybrids (-17.8%). However, the introduction of new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVS) at the end of the year saw PHEV’s leap 21.8% in December 2019 with continued strong sales and growth of MHEV models
  • With the fall in diesel sales, a rise in petrol and SUVs came with it, resulting in the UK’s average CO2 figures rising 2.7%. This has occurred regardless of the 144.0% increase in BEVs (which, again, only represents 1.64% of the market).

It’s also interesting to note the brand winners of 2019, in terms of significant volume and growth (%):

Jeep 1.29%

Mazda 1.38%

Kia 1.63%

Citroen 2.39%

Toyota 3.21%

Bentley 3.4%

Seat 9.44%

Volvo 11.70%

Porsche 22.67%

Lexus 26.67%

Dacia 28.06%

MG 44.49%

Looking ahead in 2020, it would appear that the industry continues to face the challenges that could represent the ‘double-edged sword’ that needs to be focused on growing sales volumes, whilst looking to deliver vehicles that achieve lower emissions. The automotive organisations will be under intense pressure to decrease the worrying CO2 figures, most likely with the ‘push’ of alternatively fuelled vehicle sales. However, in the midst of the ‘resurgence’ in sales will come the factor of non-BEV/PHEV/MHEV sales and what the future volumes look like for them.

The predictions for the overall market in 2020 so far may appear sombre. However, December’s increase in total registrations and almost un-changed retail sales appear as a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

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