August registrations: source SMMT
- New car registrations fall 6.4% in August to 76,433.
- Diesels decline continues, down 21.3%
- AFV demand surges 58.3% as more motorists switch to hybrids and electric.
- Year-to-date market steady, down 2.4%, with 1.64 million cars joining British roads in 2017.
PRIVATE sales dropped by nearly 10% and new diesel demand down 21.3%, according to SMMT figures showing the UK new car market declined for the fifth consecutive month in August, held up by the dominant fleet sector that dipped slightly.
But the profile published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, showing registrations fell 6.4% against a record August 2016, should change dramatically with this month’s welter of scrappage schemes set to trigger a retail sales resurgence in September.
In one of the quietest months traditionally, preceding the new number plates in September, registrations totalled just over 76,000 against July’s total just shy of 162,000.
Private registrations dropped 9.9% to 33,597 and a 44% market share while fleet dipped 3.2% to 41,899 with an increased market share of 54.8%. Business registrations continued to fall, down 14.1% to 937 and just 1.2% market share.
Meanwhile, more people chose to get behind the wheel of an alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) than ever before in the month, accounting for a 5.2% share of the market.
Demand for petrol hybrid and pure electric battery powered cars increased substantially, up 74.9% and 62.5%, while plug-in hybrid registrations rose 38.5%.
Shake-up in best-sellers
The smaller sales figures also brought a interesting shake-up in the month’s best-sellers, led once again by VW Golf over the emerging new generation Fiesta, but with the Vauxhall Mokka X surging past Ford Focus to take third spot – with VW Polo fifth, Ford Kuga sixth, Vauxhall’s Corsa and Astra seventh and ninth, with Kia Sportage eighth and Nissan Qashqai tenth.
MINI and Mercedes A- and C-Class, still strong in the year’s top ten, were knocked off the month’s front runners completely.
Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, says: “This is now the fifth consecutive month of decline since the rush by new car buyers to beat the tax changes in April.
“On the surface, another monthly drop-off looks bad for the car industry, however this is still the third biggest August in the last decade.
“Typically August is always a slow month as consumers hang on for the new 67-plates, that came out at the start of this month.”
Year to date, the market remained broadly in line with expectations, down 2.4%, with 1,640,241 new cars joining British roads in the first eight months.
Superminis and small family cars remained the most popular types in August, accounting for more than half (58.3%) of registrations. However, SUVs, larger family cars and executives were the only segments to grow, up 7.9%, 2.2% and 1.1% respectively.
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “August is typically a quiet month for the new car market as consumers and businesses delay purchases until the arrival of the new number plate in September.
“With the new 67-plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand.”