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Lack of pre-registrations sees new car sales cool as crucial 70-plate September market draws to a close

Time 8 months ago

New car sales have cooled towards the end of September – but it looks likely the market could still be up.

Car Dealer sources have revealed the September 70-plate change looks set to be two per cent up on 2019 with around 360,000 cars sold, but forced registrations have been missing. 

Dealers are concentrating on the last day of the month today, but the feeling at the end of August that this month could be the biggest September plate change ever have eased.

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This has been predominantly down to manufacturers not forcing pre-registrations on dealers and, with many manufacturers struggling with supply of new models, dealers have pushed some sales into quarter four.

‘Car manufacturers are not pushing pre registrations quite to the extent that they did in this month last year,’ said one dealer group boss.

‘Those registrations are not being seen in the last couple of days of this month and that has cooled the market. Retail sales have been strong though and overall the picture is a very positive one.

‘We have pushed a number of sales into the next quarter and I’m feeling pretty positive about that now.’

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Yesterday, Pendragon boss Bill Berman told Car Dealer (video above, 12:54-13:52) that his September sales had been strong.

He said: ‘The pre reg is nowhere near what it was last year. 

‘You probably won’t get the growth you have seen that you saw maybe through July and August but it is performing at a high level.

‘SMMT data is showing a decent increase in volumes on a year on year basis and a lot of that is being driven by VW and Audi, which unfortunately I don’t have any representation for.

‘But margins are good, used car performance is solid and aftersales is continuing to chug along at a pretty good pace. 

‘Overall, we’re very happy and excited for things.

‘The only other caveat is there are a decent amount of sold orders that are going to carry over into Q4 which should help especially in the first part of October going into November.’

Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu, told Car Dealer earlier this month that he thinks the September new car market will be up.

He told us: ‘It all depends, in terms of the headline SMMT numbers, on the close at the end of September. 

‘I suspect there will be less pre-registrations in the last three days than last year. Supply in certain manufacturers is far more constrained than it has been. 

‘There are some manufacturers who have good supply but there are a number that have got weak supply.’

New car registration date from the SMMT for the 70-plate change month will be released on Monday.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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