Despite a slight year-on-year increase in car sales, industry bosses say Brexit uncertainty is hampering further growth
James Attwood, digital editor
4 October 2019

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.,

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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 Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the third most popular car in September, ahead of the Mini hatchback, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus.

The Tesla Model 3 was the third best-selling car in the UK in August but didn't feature in September’s top 10.

Read more

Industry encouraged by rising EV sales in August

EU motor industry leaders unite against no deal Brexit

The Autocar guide to WLTP

 

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Comments
12

4 October 2019
I will look forward to this years best selling car of each country in Europe. I bet Model 3 would make a few appearances although it has not been on sale for the whole year. It could make morw UK top 10 appearances, depending on the delivery plan.

4 October 2019

New car registrations down - blame Brexit. New car regisrsations up - blame Brexit. Jeez!

I'm going back to my 'use your brain' rather than take in everything you read like a sponge.

Let's say Brexit will have a negative effect on car sales and production like Mr Hawes says. Given that Brexit hasn't happened ( it might never happen) and given that Mr Johnson says we may leave with no deal 31st Oct ( his nose must be longer than Pinnochio's by now ) doesn't logic dictate that the public would be buying more cars before the price increases?

What these people say make no logical sense to me. Whatever happens we're going to buy new cars, we we're buying cars when the stock market crashed, we were buying cars after 9/11. Yet for some obscure reason, I'm being led to believe my Hawes and Co. that I'm not buying a car right now when, according to him, the prices are cheaper.  Nope I just don't buy in to Hawes theory.

4 October 2019

My job is at risk from hard Brexit so of course I am not going to buy a new car but make my current car last longer. When facing an economic downturn and uncertainty no need to buy a new car. I replaced other items earlier this year so no need to spend more. 

Why do you think an act of self harm like Brexit will not affect sales? Businesses are also pulling in their spend. I know how much we have wasted in cash tied up managing Brexit preperation so of course spend on cars is down, only replace the knackered.

4 October 2019

Rol-up, Roll-up!

Buy your 3 door Corsa now before Vauxhall remove that choice forever.

4 October 2019
As always, uncertainty over brexit, well if our useless politicians didn't keep bickering over it then maybe the uncertainty would be gone, after all they are still arguing about if we should leave and that boat should have sailed ages ago.

I'm sure that all the in house bickering is doing more harm than if we left with no deal at the first instance.

4 October 2019

The problem is leave was sold on false pretences and people just do not want to accept reality. We already had a good deal and are giving it away. There are problems in the UK of the UK making. 

4 October 2019
Strawman_John wrote:

The problem is leave was sold on false pretences and people just do not want to accept reality. We already had a good deal and are giving it away. There are problems in the UK of the UK making. 

Sold on false pretences? Get over yourself. We knew what we were voting for; we're not children.

Out means out!

5 October 2019

Ah so you knew that the EU would protect its single market so it would not be the easiest deal ever and that the Germans would not cave in. You knew that we would either end up with bad deal WTO terms or stuck in EU T&C without influence or control of them. You knew about the Irish border mess. You knew that UK investment would be hit badly and that our trade deals would not be better than in EU. You knew that UK currency would be hit making people worse off and that the UK would end up with less influence and more of a rule taker from the bigger economies without the shelter the EU provides. 

I guess you knew what you were doing then. Do you think it was a good choice.?  I knew it was a bad deal but it has turned out worse than I expected. I thought someone in leave had to have a plan.  

4 October 2019

Dear Mr Hawes, In my opinion your members would sell more vehicles if they weren’t continually trying to sell overpriced poor quality products which are barely suitable for the current user environments. Please also address main dealer networks with service departments who are now verging on becoming fraudulent, and leave the politics to our elected representatives.

 

5 October 2019
jensen_healey wrote:

Dear Mr Hawes, In my opinion your members would sell more vehicles if they weren’t continually trying to sell overpriced poor quality products which are barely suitable for the current user environments. Please also address main dealer networks with service departments who are now verging on becoming fraudulent, and leave the politics to our elected representatives.

AMEN!Oh an I hope I will be getting a personal letter thanking me for my purchase (took delivery) of a brand new car in September helping to give the increased sales figures. I have been delaying buying, nothing to do with Brexit, but for the government to pull their finger out and publish the next few years company car tax regime so I could pick a car in confidence I was still comfortable with the tax burden during my ownership. Finally they did.That and an extremely long wait for the car to make it from ordering to delivery, that blame lies with the motor industry, again nothing to do with Brexit in Japan!

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