Private new car sales fell by more than 13% during October as customers stayed away from showrooms, according to results published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
With all the political manoeuvring around Brexit and calls for a general election, this was not a really surprising result. Elections always tend to create paralysis for car buyers, so it’s likely that November and December’s sales figures will also be impacted by the decision to hold a general election on 12 December.
Business registrations also fell sharply, while fleet registrations – the largest buying sector – remained stable, fractionally up on the same month last year. This meant the overall market was down by a little under 7%.
Diesel continues its downward trend
Although it wasn’t a surprise to see sales of diesel cars continuing to fallm it was a surprise to see the extent of that fall during October. The numbers are slightly deceptive now that the SMMT no longer includes mild hybrid models in petrol and diesel numbers, but it still amounts to a 23% fall overall compared to the same month last year.
Diesel-powered cars (plus mild hybrid diesels) made up just over a quarter of all new car registrations in October, as fleet buyers turn away from diesel in increasing numbers.
It was another good month for electric vehicles, which again took more than 2% of the total registrations. Plug-in hybrids also improved compared to the first nine months of the year to take more than 2%, while regular hybrid continued their year-long improvements to take more than 5% of the market. Combined, electrified cars made up almost 10% of the total marketplace.
A long winter for new car sales?
Car dealers will not be looking forward to the next few months. A general election and a lack of resolution to the Brexit saga will likely keep buyers away until a new government is in place and a decision is made on what’s happening with Brexit.
That takes care of November and December, and then January and February are always quiet months anyway, so the glimmer of optimism for dealers will be next March…
Fiesta back on top as Corsa vanishes from Top Ten
It was a return to normality for the Top Ten as the Ford Fiesta resumed its usual spot at the top of the table. Last month’s upset best-seller, the Vauxhall Corsa, disappeared from the Top Ten altogether in October.
it was also a good month for the Nissan Qashqai, which took second place ahead of the Volkswagen Golf. The rest of the Top Ten was made up of the usual suspects, with the exception of the Range Rover Evoque, which popped up in tenth place.
As usual, we will be looking more closely at the Top Ten results in coming days so stay tuned.
Good month, bad month
Against a 7% drop in the overall marketplace, it was a good month for Alpine, Audi, Bentley, DS Automobiles, Lexus, Porsche and SEAT, which all enjoyed increased registrations of at least 10% over the same month last year.
However, things were not as rosy for Abarth, Citroën, Dacia, Fiat, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, Maserati, Mazda, Mini, Mitsubishi, Renault, Smart, SsangYong, Subaru, Suzuki, Vauxhall and Volvo, which all experienced double-digit percentage drops compared to the same month last year.
Don’t put too much weight into the year-on-year comparisons, as this time last year several brands were still struggling with having enough stock available thanks to the WLTP emissions regulations that came into force in September 2018.