UK new car registrations have regained speed after growth slowed in July, according to official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). According to the SMMT, 81,640 cars were registered in the UK in August 2016.
After rising by just 0.1% in July, August’s UK registrations grew by 3.3% compared with the same month in 2015. The figures suggest that it was fleet registrations which bolstered the market, however, as private registrations fell by 0.2%.
Year-to-date registrations are 1,680,799, up by 2.8% on the same period of 2015, with nearly 50,000 more cars registered this year so far.
As predicted, sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose again, with strong growth of 30.8% compared with the same period in 2015. The segment still only made up 3.1% of registrations last month, though. Diesel registrations fell again, by 0.2%, while petrol sales rose by 5.3%.
The biggest brand growths came from the smaller-volume brands, with Infiniti posting the biggest growth of 618% in August, over the same month in 2015. The brand still only represens 0.34% of the market, however, with 280 cars registered in August. Ssangyong, MG, Dacia and Jeep grew by 78%, 130%, 97% and 75% respectively.
Lotus’s registrations picked up significantly too, with the Hethel-based company posting 500% growth - registering 90 cars - compared with August 2015. This comes after Lotus registered just one car in July 2016.
The largest growth posted by a high-volume brand was that of Kia, with monthly sales growing by 81% compared with August 2015. The company's Sportage crossover was one of the best-selling cars in the UK over the month.
Mitsubishi’s woes deepened following its fuel economy scandal, with a 39% shrinkage in UK registrations compared to August 2015. The brand now makes up just 0.45% - 367 cars – of the UK car market. Meanwhile, in the premium segment, BMW lost 1.98% of its market share compared with August 2015 – 96 fewer cars were registered across the month.
Vauxhall shrunk by 3.81%, selling 340 fewer cars in August 2016 over August 2015. Across the year, its market share has fallen by just over 4%. A Vauxhall spokesman put the slip down to the closing of product cycles, as well as the change to the new 66 plate, and Vauxhall's strategies surrounding it.
Volkswagen’s losses were the heaviest, with the brand losing 25% of its market share and nearly 2000 fewer cars registered in August 2016 over August 2015.
The brand still made up 6.97% of the UK car market in August, down from 9.63% in August last year. The Golf and Polo are still among the best-selling cars in the UK, however, and rising to fifth and sixth places respectively in August from sixth and seventh places in July.
A Volkswagen spokesperson responded to the shrinkage, saying: "One month’s registrations figures are insufficient to give a true picture of a car maker’s business performance. The differences between August 2016 and August 2015 are typical of volume manufacturer results, which can be explained by, for example, the delivery schedules of major customers etc. Last August, for example, market share was notably higher than the year-to-date figure.
Confidence remains strong within our UK retailer network. New customers continue to be attracted to our award-winning, great-value cars, boosted by the recent UK launch of the new Tiguan SUV."
The top 10 best-selling cars in the UK over 2016 so far are as follows:
Ford Fiesta 76,370
Vauxhall Corsa 50,355
Ford Focus 46,145
Volkswagen Golf 43,951
Nissan Qashqai 39,674
Vauxhall Astra 35,276
Volkswagen Polo 33,877
Vauxhall Mokka 27,545
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 26,391
In August, the Ford Kuga was one of the UK’s best sellers, pushing its hugely successful rival, the Nissan Qashqai, into tenth place. The Kia Sportage placed just above the Kuga.
Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, explained that August is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year for UK car registrations, as September brings in the switch to the new registration plate.
Despite the growth picking back up after last month’s stagnancy, August 2016's registration figures represent one of the slower UK growths since the economic downturn of the late 2000s.
Read last month’s official industry registration figure analysis here