Car sales fall again as confusion reigns
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