Nearly 470,000 new cars were registered last month, giving the UK its best September on record, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The September 2016 result of 469,696 new cars was an increase of 2% year-on-year. All of that growth came from registrations in England, which grew by , while registration numbers fell across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Year-to-date, the new car market is running 3% above 2015 figures. September is often the busiest month of the year for new car dealers, with the biannual number plate change prompting a mini boom after what is often a flat August in showrooms.
Fleet sales drove most of the growth, with an increase of 7% on September 2015 results, while private and business registrations were both down. Diesel-powered cars made a bit of a comeback, with 3% more vehicles registered than for September last year. Petrol-powered cars still comfortably lead the market, despite a 1% fall compared to the same month last year.
Alternatively-fuelled vehicles continued their growth, up 33% on last year but still only making up 3% of the total vehicle market.
Ford Fiesta still leading the way
Looking at individual vehicles, the Ford Fiesta continues its reign at the top of the charts, ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa. The Volkswagen Golf pipped the Ford Focus by only 11 units for third place, followed by the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Polo, Vauxhall Astra, Audi A3, Mini hatch and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “September is always one of the biggest months for Britain’s new car market. The new 66-plate, combined with a diverse range of exciting new models featuring the latest technology, has certainly helped draw buyers into showrooms and many are taking full advantage of the attractive deals and low interest financing options on offer.
“However business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite.”