UK car sales fall for sixth consecutive month

5th October 2017

The Ford Fiesta was the third best-selling car in September 2017

The new car market has contracted for six months running as new car registrations fell by 9.3 per cent in September compared to the same month last year.

Some 426,170 new cars were registered in September, which marked a drop-off of 43,526 units on the 469,696 from 12 months earlier, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

No particular market segment is to blame with fleet sales down 10.1 per cent while the private retail market fell by 8.8 per cent.

With the introduction of a new reg plate, September is a big month for new car sales but even the appeal of the 67 plate hasn’t been enough to reverse the downward trajectory of new registrations.

The last time September recorded a decline was in 2011, but that was only a minor drop of 0.8 per cent.

New car sales are regularly looked to as not only a barometer of the health of the UK new car market but also the nation’s economy.

As a result, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said this latest decline would “cause considerable concern”.

“Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases,” he commented.

“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.”

Despite the solid half-year of monthly decreases, September saw year-to-date registrations pass the two million mark, with 2,066,411 units registered in the first nine months of 2017. This is a shortfall of less than four per cent and 84,084 units.

Nissan’s Qashqai was the best-selling model for September with 13,499 units shifted, followed by the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta.

Molly Benton, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Many expected September to be the month where new car registrations returned to growth and as the end of the year tends to see the new car market wind down towards Christmas, it may now be March before we see registrations enjoy positive change again.”