The Volkswagen emissions scandal has not yet had a negative impact on demand for diesel-engined cars in the UK, based on the latest set of figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
UK car sales reached their highest-ever September total last month, with a total of 462,517 registrations. Diesel and petrol car sales rose by 4.1% and 12.3% compared with the same month in 2014, and alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) recorded another strong month, with volumes up 21.7% on September 2014's figure.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “It is too early to draw conclusions, but customer demand for diesel remained strong, accounting for one in two cars registered.”
Over the longer term, however, there is a sign that diesel's share of the new car market is falling. While the number of registrations of new diesels has gone up, the fuel type's share of the new car market has actually declined compared with 2014.
For the year to date, diesel accounts for 47.9% of new car registrations - but in the same nine-month period last year it held 49.8% of the market.
Petrol power has risen slightly from 48.3% in 2014 to 49.4%, while the market share of alternatively fuelled vehicles has got up from 1.9% in 2014 to 2.7%.
It was the 43rd consecutive month of growth in the UK’s new car market. The total number of cars registered in 2015 so far is 2,096,886, 7.1% higher than at the same point last year. It is the first time that the two million cars mark has been passed in September since 2004.
Gains were made across all market sectors – private, fleet and business – while petrol, diesel and alternatively fuelled vehicles all saw increased demand. Buyers were not shy of ordering new Volkswagen products either, with the Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Polo both in the top five models in terms of registrations.
Hawes said: “September is traditionally one of the year’s biggest months for new car registrations, and last month set an autumn record. With plenty of attractive, affordable deals available on the new 65-plate, Britain’s car buyers – whether private, fleet or business consumers – were busier than ever.
“The market reached pre-recession levels some time ago, and we anticipate some levelling off in the coming months.”
The Ford Fiesta continued its reign as the UK’s most popular car, with a total of 22,807 new examples registered in September.