The UK new car market continues to decline, with 426,170 new units registered, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Registrations fell by -9.3 per cent during September, as economic and political uncertainty, and confusion over air quality plans led to a fall in consumer confidence.
Demand from business, fleet and private buyers all fell, down -5.2 per cent, -10.1 per cent and -8.8 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, registrations fell across all body types except dual-purpose, which grew 2.4 per cent.
The biggest declines were seen at opposite ends of the market with both luxury saloons and superminis falling -36.4 per cent and 21.2 per cent respectively.
AFV’s more popular
Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV’s) continued to accelerate in September, surging 41.0 per cent in the month and 34.6 per cent year-to-date, with nearly 95,000 leaving forecourts this year.
However, this couldn’t compensate for declines in registrations of petrol cars, down -1.2 per cent, and, especially, diesel which fell for the sixth consecutive month, down -21.7 per cent.
Confusion surrounding air quality plans has inevitably led to a drop-in consumer and business demand for diesel vehicles, which is undermining the roll out of the latest low emissions models and thwarting the ambitions of both industry and government to meet challenging CO2 targets.
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.
So far this year, 485,067 diesel vehicles have been produced in the UK, and 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.
Consumer confidence low
Year-to-date, new car registrations have fallen -3.9 per cent; but overall, the market remains at a historically high level with over two million vehicles hitting UK roads so far this year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern.
“Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases.
“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.
“Manufacturers’ scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities.”
Have you still got questions about the ban of new petrol and diesel car sales in 2040? Has the confusion surrounding air quality plans had a backlash on your business? Let us know your thoughts.