JUST three makers recorded positive sales growth in September.
Audi was up 1.3 per cent. Jaguar up 3.5 per cent. And smart up 9.2 per cent.
Otherwise, it’s negative figures across the board. What’s even more alarming, however, is the extent of some of the falls.
Who would have thought BMW would drop 24 per cent, for example, or Ford plunge 23 per cent? Vauxhall had the month’s best-selling car, but still recorded a 16.5 per cent fall.
Indeed, only five makers manage to see sales falls of less than double digits. And that, by any measure, is a huge concern.
Overall declines even outrank those of August – a month that was the worst since 1966. This really is unchartered territory for many in the industry.
So doom-laden are things, it’s only by analysing which makers fell least can you get a picture of what buyers are seeking. Fiat, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai and Mazda were all ‘less bad’ – and either sell high-value cars, or specialise in small and economical models. Or both.
The only surprising exceptions are Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Respective falls of 9.1 per cent and 6.3 per cent would be terrible in any normal trading period. By September standards, they’re positively glowing, and show either a far more focused sales offer (Volvo) or influx of new kit compared with last year (Mercedes).
Worryingly, though, there are even makers who have seen like-for-like sales plummet by more than half. Renault (50.7 per cent), SsangYong (56.5 per cent), Jeep (61 per cent), Cadillac (61 per cent), Proton (65.9 per cent) and Chrysler (68.9 per cent) all had a truly sickening September.
Year-total sales paint a different picture, of course. Ford’s down only 6.7 per cent, as is Vauxhall, while Renault’s decline is a fierce but less wholesale 23 per cent.
But the barometer has spoken. September was always billed as a bellwether for the state of the industry. And the diagnosis is intensive-care critical.
You can download the full new car registrations as an Excel file by clicking the link below: september_newcar_regs.xls
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