The UK new car market fell by 20.5% in September, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 338,834 vehicles were registered in the month, 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 and 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.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “With the industry given barely a year to reapprove the entire European model line-up, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen bottlenecks and a squeeze on supply. These are exceptional circumstances with similar declines seen in other major European markets. The good news is that, as backlogs ease, consumers and businesses can look forward to a raft of exciting high-tech cars and a market keen to recover lost momentum.”
Mike Hawes continued, “Thanks to more realistic performance data, car buyers will be better informed to choose the cars that best suit their driving needs in full confidence that they are the cleanest and most fuel-efficient ever produced.”