Currently reading: Diesel car sales not affected by VW emissions scandal
The UK new car market enjoyed its highest-ever number of registrations in September - and demand for diesels remained strong
Matt Burt
2 mins read
6 October 2015

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 Golf and 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. 

New car registrations - September 2015

1 Ford Fiesta 22,807 cars registered


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2 Vauxhall Corsa 15,670

3 Ford Focus 14,258

4 Volkswagen Golf 13,603

5 Volkswagen Polo 11,026

6 Nissan Qashqai 10,119

7 Mini 8754

8 Vauxhall Astra 7920

9 Vauxhall Mokka 7670

10 Fiat 500 7460

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6 October 2015
Now that the diesel lie is out and the bubble has popped my lungs can breathe a sigh of relief.

6 October 2015
xxxx wrote:

Now that the diesel lie is out and the bubble has popped my lungs can breathe a sigh of relief.

On the flip side it means Co2 levels will increase so let's look forward to palm trees in Orkney and watching polar bears on the latest iceberg floating past Torquay

6 October 2015
Most of these orders would have been in before the scandal broke. And the tax system still favours diesel over petrol (hybrids and electric gaining but still niche). Just wait til city centres start announcing diesel bans...

6 October 2015
September results were never likely to be too affected - most of the registrations for the month would have been cars sold before the scandal hit (in some cases, sales agreed weeks or months ago for September delivery). There may have been a few cancellations s a result of the VW scandal, but it would have been small beer among a total of 212,000 diesel cars registered.

The coming quarter will be a much bigger test, particularly December. Now that the news is far more widely spread, the number of people choosing diesel cars is likely to decrease. Obviously, Volkswagen brands will be most affected but there is likely to be an impact on everyone else as well. There will be plenty of stock around which needs to be moved, so there will be deals on the table, but less forward ordering of diesel models.

6 October 2015
What has changed is that there has been an epidemic of smug twats with fuel guzzling petrol cars announcing that everyone's going to have to waste money in future like they are now.

I spent too long yesterday listening to an idiot telling me that 19mpg was great consumption and well worth it because he didn't like diesel, for no actual reason he could come up with.

6 October 2015
It's far too early to see how this might affect VW or the market, Septembers sales figs were never going to tell a thing.
This story broke late sept with barely enough time for a customer to get to a dealer, test drive and order a new car from stock and still have it registered in time to be in Sept figures.
As the majority of VW sales are factory order rather than stock, with a typical 3 month lead time, then January and March figures are the ones that are really going to show the difference if there is any. You may see small movement in the October figs for VW alone when the SMMT releases them, but very unlikely to see much whole market change.
We have seen only a small drop in brand interest for the VAG group in our own sales, and would describe it as more customer confusion rather than being put off the brand, with those withholding orders being in expectation that VW may have to offer larger discounts on new cars shortly to compensate. Having seen the Audi Q4 marketing campaign very little has changed from Q3, so it seems there has been no brand panic so far.

6 October 2015
Orangewheels wrote:

As the majority of VW sales are factory order rather than stock, with a typical 3 month lead time, then January and March figures are the ones that are really going to show the difference if there is any.

Agree, but to throw a spanner in the works, nothing stopping VW registering more cars themselves and selling them del-miles. Sales figures don't really mean anything.

6 October 2015
Don't understand how the top 10 can only account for 120,000 but there's still another 340,000 undisclosed sales?? Especially as from 11th place onwards each car can only account for a max of 7,500?? Love the way SMMT don't show the whole list unless you pay for it despite it being public info.

6 October 2015
I wonder why manufacturers chase market share rather than profits? For instance, GM makes a loss on every Vauxhall sold. Why would they carry on chasing market share by pre registering cars no one wants and depressing the sales values they can achieve on cars that people actually buy? Seems like that will just create a self perpetuating cycle. Anyone?

6 October 2015
How much do you charge for a haircut and are you based anywhere near London?


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