September new car registrations set to be down 3-4 per cent, say sources

Time 1 year ago

The crucial September 70-plate new car market will be down between 3-4 per cent when official registration figures are released today – but that should ‘not be seen as a disappointment’.

Sources have told Car Dealer that a distinct lack of pre registration activity in the last few days of September saw the market cool in the final days.

Supply issues with many manufacturers struggling to get back up to speed following Covid-19 lockdowns at factories around the world has also caused issues.


Car Dealer sources who have seen preliminary figures for the month say 340,000-345,000 cars have been sold in September.

However, the drop should not be seen as a disappointment though, say car dealer bosses, as it was still ‘a very strong trading period’.

Official figures are released at 9am today and Car Dealer will be analysing them with ASE Global’s Mike Jones at 9am.

Cox Automotive insight director Philip Nothard said: ‘Demand for new cars in September started strong but ended-up behind last year’s performance.

‘Constraints on car production on manufacturers continued to hamper supply which subsequently hindered the delivery of new car customer orders.

‘Reduced consumer confidence and pressures on the fleet sector also both remain a crucial influence on the new car market.’

James Hind, CEO of Carwow, told us two weeks ago that some dealers were asking him for ‘less new car leads’ in September as they didn’t have the ‘bandwidth or staff’ to deal with them.

Pre registrations unfairly push the market up in the last few days of a month as manufacturers force dealers to register cars to hit targets. These unsold orders are registered by a dealer and then sold as ‘nearly new’, but it’s a process that can be quite damaging if not carefully managed.

Car Dealer asked dealers up and down the country how well their September sales were tracking in the middle of the month and most predicted a record result.

Some had hit their targets in the first few weeks and were already pushing sales into the fourth quarter.

Car dealer bosses have told us that Q4 now looks far more positive as many registrations from September have been pushed back due to supply issues.

Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester even predicted strong sales could last until Christmas as buyers look for something unique to buy loved ones and spend the winter holiday cash on a car instead.

Tony Roberts, boss of Horizon Magna Motor Group, which holds franchises for Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi and Nissan said new car sales were ‘beyond expectations’ when we spoke to him in the middle of the month.

He said: ‘New cars have really come back strongly and will eclipse last September.

‘Our Honda target was reached by September 14, Nissan target done by the 11th – and Mitsubishi target was done before September even commenced.

‘As of the middle of September we are already matching our sales of last September.’

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

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But, he added: ‘The pre reg is nowhere near what it was last year.’

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

First published: Oct 2, 0844; Updated: Oct 5, 0710

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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