Registrations fall for second year

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show the UK’s new bus and coach market fell by 5.6% in 2018. This sees annual registrations falling for a second consecutive year to 7,236 units.

A 5.6% drop in the final three months of the year marked the eighth straight quarter of decline. The SMMT cited local authority budget cuts and uncertainty over local Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plans as factors affecting operator confidence. Quarter four performance saw a steep fall in demand for double-decks, down by 34.6%, although the minibus and single-deck segments both grew, by 0.9% and 14.3% respectively.

Minibus registrations rose in 2018, with demand for these smaller vehicles growing by 5% in the year to 4,023 units. The SMMT viewed this as operators downsizing and downscaling investments. However, this was not enough to offset significant declines in demand for single and double-deck buses, falling by 8.5% and 26.8% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “A second year of decline for the bus and coach sector is extremely concerning. While the market is cyclical, there’s no doubt that a squeeze on local government spending, general economic uncertainty, and confusion surrounding a patchwork of differing Clean Air Zones have taken their toll on operator confidence. While the recently announced ultra-low emission bus fund is a step in the right direction, wider incentives aligned with the right business conditions are required to encourage fleet renewal and get more of the latest, lowest emission buses and coaches onto local roads.”

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