Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) troubled start to the year in the UK continued through March as the Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands followed the falling market down as they suffered double digits sales slumps with the only black ink coming from a surging Abarth
The UK new passenger car market declined in March, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with registrations falling 15.7% compared with the same month last year.
March 2017 however was the biggest month ever for new car registrations, as buyers seized the chance to purchase cars before new tax rates came into force in April last year. UK registrations are still running at a historically high level and last month’s market was the fourth biggest March on record.
Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell in March, down -14.3%, -15.0% and -16.5% respectively. Continuing the recent trend, diesel registrations declined in March, down -37.2%.
Registrations of plug-in and hybrid vehicles continued to rise, albeit modestly, up 5.7%, with demand for plug-in hybrids driving growth, up 18.2% for the month. Registrations of petrol cars were essentially stable, up 0.5%.
In terms of vehicle types, demand for dual purpose cars remains the best performer in March, down -0.7%, with just 713 fewer vehicles registered than in the record March 2017. In the first quarter of this year 146,614 of these vehicles hit British roads, an increase of 2.7%, as the inclement weather appeared to lead to a boost in registrations.
New car registrations in the UK have fallen for the twelfth consecutive month, with year-to-date performance down 12.4%.
The Fiat brand’s tough start to the year continued through March as it lost more than a third of its sales, which added up to fourth thousand units, year-on-year to finish on 8,524 units and as a result its share of the total fell half a point to 1.80%.
Alfa Romeo also lost ground as also underperformed the overall market and it dropped 18.97% to 1,004 units to give it a sales share for the month of 0.21%.
It was a better story for Abarth however as its sales went the other way to the declining overall market and in fact bumped up by 16.77% year-on-year to 1,107 units and that equated to a market share of 0.23%, while it also outsold sister niche FCA brand Alfa Romeo.
Maserati was also shunned by UK buyers during registration change month as its sales fell 35.66% year-on-year to 276 units. Finally, the red ink also extended to FCA’s Jeep brand which lost more than a quarter of its sales as it ended the month just gone on 1,322 units.
After the first quarter of the year the picture isn’t pretty for FCA in the UK and the Fiat brand’s sales are down more than one-third and six thousand units compared to the first three months of last year. It sits on 11,544 unit sales for the year-to-date which means its share of the whole market has contracted to 1.61%.
Alfa Romeo’s sales uptick across Europe and North America doesn’t seem to extend to the UK and surprisingly its down 15.18% to 1,458 units over the first three months of the year, broadly mirroring the overall market but unable to extract too much value from the new models in its range.
Abarth, the standalone brand reserved for sporty Fiat models, however has enjoyed a great start to 2018. With 1,527 sales after the first three months, the ‘Scorpion’ brand is up more than two hundred units and 17.37% year-on-year to give it a 0.21% slice of total market sales for the period.
Maserati has enjoyed little joy in the UK so far this year and is down by almost one third and two hundred units year-on-year after three months to 436 units. Finally, the Jeep brand has seen sharply declining demand in the UK for its products so far this year and is down 37.44% after shifting just 1,728 units over the first quarter a year-on-year, that adds up to the loss of a thousand sales.