MUCH to the relief of RV analysts at UK leasing companies, the car crash in used car sales announced by the SMMT didn’t happen. The Brexit effect was, in fact, an algorithm aberration.
A sheepish Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) has admitted that its statistics published last week showing a record-breaking 13.5 per cent fall in the UK’s Q2 used car market was wildly inaccurate.
The true drop was only 0.7 per cent, said the SMMT, leaving total used car sales actually up by 1.5 per cent for the year’s first half compared with 2016.
A “rogue” algorithm in the SMMT’s data cruncher of registration statistics supplied from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency was responsible for the misreading, SMMT officials insisted.
In a revised statement from Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said:
“With used car sales closely mirroring what we see in the new car market, last quarter’s moderate decline comes as no surprise – and with demand easing over recent months, this could offer motorists the opportunity to get some great deals.
“However, although the market remains at an exceptionally high level, given the softening we’ve seen in registrations of new cars in more recent months, looking ahead it is vital that government secures the conditions that will maintain consumer and business confidence if we are to see both markets continue to prosper.”
Also faintly embarrassing from the point of view of the likeable Mike Hawes is a bounce-back of car production in July. Just a month ago Hawes had said that, amid all the EU uncertainty, there was now no prospect of UK car output hitting a target of 2m a year by 2020.
That prediction was spurred by a drop in output of 14 per cent, year on year, in June. But it was 9 per cent higher in July, with buoyancy expected to continue as a result of some major new models such as Land Rover’s Range Rover Velar and Jaguar XF estate car coming on stream.
“They’ve stepped up a gear,” Hawes acknowledged.
He added: “Market performance comparisons for July and August should always be treated with caution, but as long as the economic conditions at home and abroad stay broadly stable we expect new car production to remain in line with expectations for the rest of 2017.”
Revised Q2 used car sales figures
- Used car transactions remain steady, falling -0.7% in Q2 2017, as market mirrors downturn in new car registrations
- Year-to-date sales remain stable, up 1.3% to over 4.2 million units.
- Diesels remain popular, with nearly 1.7m bought in first half of 2017, an increase of 4.0%, as alternatively fuelled vehicles enjoy 26.1% boost.
- source: SMMT