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Car sales slow in October – but still ahead of 2015

1.4% growth described as 'market stabilising'

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The UK car market continued to grow in October – but only just, registrations up 1.4% on the same month in 2015.

A total of 180,168 new cars were registered in the month, taking the 2016 total to 2,330,663. This is 2.5% up on 2015 as figures appear to be slipping back in line with the start-of-year growth forecasts from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), that compiles the figures.

Fleet demand is continuing to drive the market, up 4.2% in October while private registrations slipped by 1.1%.


The SMMT describes this as market stabilisation after hitting an all-time high. “September’s number plate change is always a hard act to follow so the market’s growth in October, albeit moderate, is welcome news,” says SMMT CEO Mike Hawes.

“Low interest rates, affordable finance packages and a range of exciting new models helped attract buyers into showrooms and we now look to government to ensure consumer and business confidence remains buoyant,” he adds.

Meanwhile registrations of alternatively fuelled cars, which includes hybrids and electric vehicles, are continuing to grow faster than the market. October’s figure was 12.4%, with 6,025 registered, while the year-to-date figure of 75,987 is 23.3% up on 2015.

The new car top ten retains its familiar look, with the Ford Fiesta dominating both the monthly table with 7,806 registrations, and the year-to-date with 103,945.

Usually the Ford’s closest rival, the Vauxhall Corsa slipped back to seventh place in October with only 3,906 registrations, but still maintains runner-up status in the year-to-date table with a figure of 68,831. Notably climbing the table is the Audi A3, up from ninth place in September to fifth with 4,281 registrations – a strong performance as premium cars do not tend to feature highly amongst mainstream rivals.


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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.