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August marks the fifth month of decline for UK car market

Time 9:35 am, September 5, 2017

THE UK car market has posted its fifth month of decline in August, according to figures out today from the SMMT.

It’s the month that typically shows a decline in sales as customers hold out for the plate change month of September. However, compared to the same month in 2016, sales were down 6.4 per cent and stood at 76,433.

Car registrations in August have continued to grow over the past seven years and, despite the drop, 2017 is still the third highest sales month from the last ten years.


Superminis and small family cars remained the most popular types in August, accounting for more than half (58.3 per cent) of registrations. However, SUVs, larger family cars and executives were the only segments to grow, up 7.9 per cent, 2.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, more people chose to get behind the wheel of an alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) than ever before in the month, accounting for a 5.2 per cent share of the market.

Demand for petrol hybrid and pure electric battery powered cars increased substantially, up 74.9 per cent and 62.5 per cent, while plug-in hybrid registrations rose 38.5 per cent. Conventional petrols grew 3.8 per cent and diesels fell by 21.3 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘August is typically a quiet month for the new car market as consumers and businesses delay purchases until the arrival of the new number plate in September.


‘With the new 67-plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand.’

NFDA director Sue Robinson commented: ‘August is usually a quiet month for the new car market and this is reflected in the decrease in registrations, down -6.4% on the same period in 2016 and -2.4% year to date, in line with forecasts.’

She added: ‘It is notable that Alternative Fuel Vehicles continue to grow market share, up 5.2% in August to over 71,000 units registered year to date amidst the increased volume of diesel scrappage schemes being announced.

‘Given the substantial decline in diesel registrations, it is crucial that modern Euro 6 diesel cars are not compared to older diesel vehicles. NFDA and its members are working hard to clarify the facts surrounding the whole diesel issue and helping consumers find the car best suited to their needs.

‘We are now looking forward to see what the September plate-change month has in store, although we are anticipating a stable final quarter of the year for franchised dealers.’

MORE: SMMT admits getting figures wrong over used car sales fall

MORE: New car market falls in July as demand declines across business and consumer sectors

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Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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