New car registrations were down by just under 3% in October, as the overall market largely recovered from the supply problems that affected September’s results.
Private new car sales were only down by 1% on the same month last year, with fleet registrations down 5%. There was a late surge on plug-in hybrid vehicles, with buyers rushing to buy a new vehicle ahead of the government grant being cut at the end of the month. In the bigger picture, however, this is still a small percentage of the overall new car market.
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Stability despite the industry bleatings
As usual, there has been plenty of bluster in press releases this morning about Brexit, diesel, government grants and so on from parties with particular vested interests, but the overall picture is relatively stable despite some topsy-turvy months along the way.
This is not really surprising, as we have pointed out repeatedly, since most new cars are bought or leased on finance agreements that keep the overall market turning over despite individual fluctuations.
October’s results, in fact, lined up pretty closely with the year-to-date averages. Diesel sales were at 32% of the overall market, which is exactly the average result for the first ten months of the year. The growth in alternatively-fuelled vehicles (basically hybrids and electric cars) came at the expense of petrol-powered cars, but not in really significant amounts.
Audi still mired in WLTP woes
Some manufacturers are still struggling to supply vehicles in the wake of new WLTP emissions rules, and their sales are continuing to suffer as a result. Audi is the most notable example, with registrations down 53% for the second month in a row.
In fact, Audi’s sales drop of more than 7,000 cars was greater than the overall market (about 4,500 cars), Arch-rival BMW appears to have benefitted the most from Audi’s woes, and has comprehensively turned the tables on its Bavarian neighbour in total sales for the year to date.
The other Volkswagen volume brands (VW, SEAT and Skoda) all seem to have completely recovered from their own September shortages, although the premium members of the family (Porsche and Bentley) both had slow months.
It was a strong month for Jaguar Land Rover, despite the company shutting down several production lines in recent weeks due to lack of demand. Jaguar registrations were up by 82% on last year, while Land Rover saw a 32% jump.
Top ten – Volkswagen bounces back
There was more shuffling of the best-sellers list in October as WLTP issues continued to affect certain brands and specific models.
After disappearing completely from the top ten list in September, Volkswagen bounced back with a vengeance in October. The Golf rebounded to its previous second place, behind the ever-dominant Ford Fiesta, while the Tiguan jumped up to fourth place and the Polo placed tenth.
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class continues to sell strongly, finishing in third place for the month. Meanwhile, it wasn’t such a good month for the Vauxhall Corsa. After finishing second in September, the Vauxhall supermini fell out of the top ten altogether in October.