Car sales fall again as con­fu­sion reigns

The Herald Magazine - - DRIVE -

THE UK new car mar­ket de­clined for a sixth con­sec­u­tive month in Septem­ber as con­fu­sion over air qual­ity plans and wider po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty led to a fall in con­sumer con­fi­dence.

A to­tal of 426,170 new units were reg­is­tered in the month, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the So­ci­ety of Mo­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Traders (SMMT). Reg­is­tra­tions fell by -9.3% in this key month.

De­mand from busi­ness, fleet and pri­vate buy­ers all fell in Septem­ber, down -5.2%, -10.1% and -8.8% re­spec­tively. Mean­while, reg­is­tra­tions fell across all body types ex­cept dual-pur­pose, which grew 2.4%. The big­gest de­clines were seen at op­po­site ends of the mar­ket with both lux­ury sa­loons and su­per­mi­nis fall­ing -36.4% and 21.2% re­spec­tively.

De­mand for al­ter­na­tively fu­elled ve­hi­cles (AFVs) con­tin­ued to ac­cel­er­ate in Septem­ber how­ever, surg­ing 41.0% in the month and 34.6% year-to-date. How­ever, this couldn’t com­pen­sate for de­clines in reg­is­tra­tions of petrol cars, down -1.2%, and, es­pe­cially, diesel which fell for the sixth con­sec­u­tive month, down -21.7%.

In­deed, if new diesel reg­is­tra­tions con­tinue on this neg­a­tive trend, UK av­er­age new car CO2 lev­els could ac­tu­ally rise this year, the first time such an in­crease would have oc­curred since av­er­age CO2 emis­sions were recorded. Main­tain­ing strong de­mand for the lat­est new diesel ve­hi­cles is es­sen­tial for the health of the UK au­to­mo­tive sec­tor that em­ploys over 814,000 peo­ple.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, said: “This de­cline will cause con­sid­er­able con­cern. The con­fu­sion sur­round­ing air qual­ity plans has not helped, but consumers should be re­as­sured that all the new diesel and petrol mod­els on the mar­ket will not face any bans or ad­di­tional charges.”

Al­ter­na­tive fu­elled ve­hi­cle de­mand is ris­ing, which is good news for Nis­san which this week un­veiled its new Leaf, above

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