New car registrations in the UK rose slightly year-on-year in September, but car industry bosses have warned that ongoing political uncertainty over Brexit is stunting market growth.
A total of 343,255 new cars were registered last month, a modest rise of 4421 units, or 1.3%, from September 2018, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures.
The rise had been expected, because registrations that month were badly hit by delays in car production due to the introduction of the new WLTP emissions testing regulations, falling 20.5%. But the year-on-year increase in the UK last month was significantly smaller than in other European Union (EU) countries that were also affected by the new test rules, and the domestic market continues to struggle.
In the first nine months of 2019, a total of 1,862,271 cars have been registered here, a year-on-year decline of 2.5%.
SMMT boss Mike Hawes attributed the continued struggles to ongoing political uncertainty, saying: “We expected to see a more significant increase in September, similar to those seen in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, given the negative effect WLTP had on all European markets last year.
“Instead, consumer confidence is being undermined by political and economic uncertainty. We need to restore stability to the market, which means avoiding a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, moreover, agreeing a future relationship with the EU that avoids tariffs and barriers that could increase prices and reduce buyer choice.”
The September new car registration figures did show some positive trends, however. Sales of electric cars continued to rise, with the 7704 registered a 236.4% year-on-year increase. Plug-in hybrid sales also rose year-on-year for the first time in six months, with the 5179 units registered up 1.5% from September 2018.,
Notably, the outgoing Vauxhall Corsa was the best-selling car in the UK last month, with 12,921 examples registered. The perennially popular Ford Fiesta was second in the sales chart, with 11,643 sold, and remains the best-selling car of 2019 so far, with a total of 64,564 registrations. The Corsa is second in the yearly charts, with a total of 47,547 registrations.
The Tesla Model 3 was the third best-selling car in the UK in August but didn't feature in September’s top 10.