New car registrations fell by more than 6% in August compared to last year, with private buyers shying away from showrooms and diesel cars continuing to have a disastrous time, according to results released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Private sales were 10% down on the same time last year, while fleet sales recorded a more moderate 3% drop (although this will include a lot of self-registered cars, as manufacturers and dealers tend to register more vehicles to themselves when demand drops). Business sales were down 14% but this is a much smaller sector, with less impact on the overall picture.
The woes for new diesel car sales continued in August, with registration numbers down more than 21% on last year. Diesel cars made up less than 40% of the market, an historic low, while petrol sales were up by just under 4%, to an overall 55% of the market, as buyers continue to switch from diesel to petrol power.
Hybrids and electric cars continue to show improvement, up 58% on last year. Almost 4,000 ‘alternatively-fuelled’ cars were registered in August, and the sector again accounted for more than 5% of the overall market.
Within the broader picture are other interesting details. SUVs continue to grow in popularity, with an 8% increase compared to the same month last year. Large family cars were also up marginally, which is something of a surprise, and executive cars also improved slightly. Hatchbacks, people movers and other types of car all decreased.
For SMMT bingo fans it was a disappointing month. There were no mentions of “Brexit” or “the single market” anywhere in the press release, nor any pleas for the government to do something to protect the automotive sector.
Volkswagen Golf is back on top
It was another good run for the Volkswagen Golf, returning to the top of the charts in August. The new Ford Fiesta improved to second place, and is generally expected to resume its traditional place at the top of the charts once supply of the all-new model is up to speed.
The Vauxhall Mokka X vaulted into the Top 10, ending up in third place, ahead of usual suspects like the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Corsa and so on. It was also a good month for the Ford Kuga, appearing in fifth place, while the Nissan Qashqai slipped from third back to tenth as supplies of the old model ran out and the new model started to arrive.
Hopes pinned on scrappage schemes and aggressive offers
August is always a slow month for new car sales, with private buyers, in particular, hanging back for the number plate change in September. With a number of manufacturers now offering aggressive scrappage schemes and other offers, the hope will be that they can claw back the losses from the middle of the year and salvage a decent yearly result by December.