The UK new car market fell by -20.5% in September, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
It reported 338,834 vehicles were registered in the month when the new registrations plate came into force, down around 87,000 on the previous year as new testing requirements continue to affect supply and distort the market.
The impact was felt across the board, with registrations by private consumers, fleets and businesses all declining, by -20.1%, -22.4% and -6.3% respectively. Registrations of petrol and diesel cars also fell, while hybrids and plug-in electrics fared better, up a modest 3.9%.
Declines were seen across almost every vehicle segment, with MPVs and Specialist Sports cars showing the biggest falls, down -54.8 and -50.9%. Luxury saloons were the only segment to register growth, up +3.5%, while Dual Purpose cars, which have enjoyed strong growth over the year to date, held steadier than most, falling just -3.5% in the month.
September’s large decline follows an unusually high August as dealers were encouraged to register or sell cars which would have been banned from 1 September under new emissions tests.
There has also been a turbulent first eight months of the year as the market responded to a raft of upheavals, from confusion over diesel policy to VED changes and, latterly, transition to the new WLTP emissions standards.
Year-to-date performance is currently -7.5% behind 2017, reflecting these factors and a drop in business and consumer confidence. Over the coming months, however, some rebalancing is expected as an increasing range of new models are certified for sale and backlogs ease.
Small and medium sized vans sales have dipped but large vans are still selling well, added the SMMT.
Just under 12,000 new cars were registered in Wales last month a near 17% drop on 12 months ago but less of a drop than most of the UK.
September best sellers in UK Wales top ten in September
|MB A-Class||Ford Kuga|
|BMW 1 Series||Nissan Qashqai|
James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars said, “After the new car market enjoyed an ‘Indian Summer’ last month, it’s disappointing to see that sales fell off in September – especially as the arrival of new plates usually encourages buyers to the forecourts.
“It would be short-sighted to look at this in isolation though after the sector enjoyed such a strong summer for sales, especially as the used car market continues to see healthy levels of demand.
“Diesel sales continue to fall considerably, but these are being made up for by an expanding appetite for electric and hybrid vehicles as drivers continue to turn towards cleaner energy, with one in 14 buyers opting for an electric vehicle in September.
“This mimics the trends that we’re seeing in AA Cars’ own data. As the technology around alternatively-fuelled vehicles advances to equip these cars with better driving range – which has been a big barrier to wider uptake – consumer attitudes are clearly warming towards these newer vehicle types.
“All eyes will now be glued on dealerships to see whether this month’s sales slowdown is a one-off or an ominous sign of things to come.”