THE UK new car market declined for a sixth consecutive month in September – despite the release of the new 67 registration plate.
A total of 426,170 new units were registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Registrations fell by a hefty 9.3 per cent in this key month, as economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air-quality plans led to a fall in consumer confidence.
Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell in September, down 5.2 per cent, 10.1 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively.
The biggest declines were seen at opposite ends of the market with luxury saloons and superminis falling 36.4 per cent and 21.2 per cent respectively.
Demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued to accelerate in September, however, surging 41 per cent in the month and 34.6 per cent in the year-to-date, with nearly 95,000 leaving forecourts this year.
However, this couldn’t compensate for declines in registrations of petrol cars, down 1.2 per cent, and, especially, diesel which fell for the sixth consecutive month, down 21.7 per cent.
The SMMT says that confusion surrounding air-quality plans has inevitably led to a drop in consumer and business demand for diesel vehicles, which is undermining the roll-out of the latest low-emission models and thwarting the ambitions of both industry and government to meet challenging CO2 targets.
In the year-to-date, new car registrations have fallen by 3.9 per cent. But, overall, the market remains at a historically high levels with over two million vehicles hitting UK roads so far this year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern.
‘Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big-ticket purchases.
‘The confusion surrounding air-quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.
‘Manufacturers’ scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities.’
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