Monthly new car registrations in the UK dropped for the first time in more than three and a half years in October as market growth levelled off.
Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 177,664 new cars were registered last month, compared with 179,714 in October 2014. This represents a fall of 1.1% – the first such drop following a record 43 consecutive months of growth.
There is also a small indication that British consumers could be starting to turn away from diesel cars in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
The market share for diesel-fuelled cars fell by 0.5% in October compared with the same month in 2014, and has dropped by 1.7% in total for the year to date compared to the corresponding 10 months in 2014.
Registrations of petrol-powered cars rose by 0.2% last month, and are up by a full 1% for the year to date.
The most significant development is the growth in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs). October AFV volumes were up by 13.8% but, more importantly, they accounted for 3% of the total market in October – the first time this has ever happened.
However, there is a mixed picture for the actual brands within the Volkswagen Group, suggesting that brand confidence hasn’t necessarily been hit by the ongoing scandal.
Volkswagen’s market share compared with October 2014 decreased by 9.84% last month, but rivals Ford and Vauxhall also posted market share losses.
Audi enjoyed a mild uplift in market share of 2.24%, but Skoda was down 3.03% and Seat fell by 32.23%.
Year-to-date figures demonstrate that the new car market is still very buoyant – 2,274,550 cars have been registered so far this year, 6.4% more than at this time in 2014, and the best year-to-date performance on record.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The UK car market has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and, so far, 2015 has been a bumper year with the strongest performance since the recession.
“As expected, demand has now begun to level off but the sector is in a strong position, as low interest rates, consumer confidence and exciting new products combine to attract new car buyers. The current full-year growth forecast remains on track.”
The high-value market segments enjoyed significant gains, with specialist sports and luxury saloon vehicle registrations growing 59.0% and 23.1% respectively.
The UK’s most-registered new cars in October 2015
1 Ford Fiesta 8577 cars registered