record September registrations
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Record September registrations

  • 469,696 new cars registered in plate-change September
  • Highest September on record.
  • Increased demand for diesels and alternatively fuelled vehicles, up 2.8% and 32.6% respectively.
  • Year-to-date total registrations grow 2.6%, with more than 2 million units registered so far this year.

THERE were words of caution in the industry as the UK new car market held steady with a 1.6% rise bringing new record September registrations.

Data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed 469,696 cars were registered with the new 66-plate, the growth driven by fleet registrations.

But as uncertainly continues following the Brexit poll, it is pointed out that many of the orders would have been placed months in advance of the referendum on EU membership.

The figures brought the total number of cars registered so far this year to 2,150,495 units – up 2.6% compared with the same period last year and only the second time, after last year, that the two million mark has been passed in September since 2004.

Fleet registrations were up 7.3%, while registrations to private motorists continued a small but steady decline, down -1.7% to 223,844 units in the month.

Diesel registrations rose 2.8% as petrols declined -1.1% while alternatively fuelled vehicles such as hybrids continued to outpace the market, up nearly a third on the same month last year with a market share of 3.4%.

record September registrations

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “September is always one of the biggest months for Britain’s new car market.

“The new 66-plate, combined with a diverse range of exciting new models featuring the latest technology, has certainly helped draw buyers into showrooms and many are taking full advantage of the attractive deals and low interest financing options on offer.”

But he pointed out: “However business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite.”

record September registrations

Chris Bosworth, director of strategy at Close Brothers Motor Finance, also warned to look beyond the headlines to implications of the market changes ahead.

He said: “Today’s new registration figures from the SMMT – the first since new 66-plated car registrations came into force – indicate that the automotive sector remains relatively resilient following Brexit with a second consecutive month of growth following a flat July.

“The increase in overall registrations has been helped by the growth in demand of alternatively-fuelled vehicles as well as business and fleet markets which all showed significant year-on-year and monthly figures for September.

“Nevertheless, it is important to analyse the figures, rather than just looking at the headlines.

“As we have seen for the last six months, private sales have continued to fall causing the growth trajectory of new car registrations to steadily drop.

“Many consumers are now starting to gravitate to well-priced ‘nearly-new’ stock as manufacturers reduce the number of subsidised finance offers available.

“With the business market likely to be impacted by the outcome of the current HMRC review into company cars, the private sales market will become increasingly important to overall registrations in the UK.

“We have also recently seen several foreign-based manufacturers announce the potential move of their European headquarters from the UK, meaning the make-up of the UK car industry in the long term is far from certain.

“Looking forward, new innovations – such as safety improvements, alternative fuels and models – released by manufacturers will be the main drivers in encouraging people to continue to purchase new cars over used vehicles in the coming months.”

record September registrations

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