September 2016 was the best on record
Ford Fiesta remains Britain's best-selling model
New car registrations continue to grow
Alternatively fuelled vehicles now account for 2.6% of the market
The Fiesta and Corsa remain Britain's favourite new cars
The UK car market has remained strong despite concerns Brexit could cause a downturn, recording the best September on record last month.
SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) figures show that September contributed 469,696 cars bringing the year to date total up to 2,150,495 and representing a 1.6% increase on the month before.
Diesel models saw an increase in demand and beat September 2015’s sales by 2.8% with 218,364 units, while alternatively fuelled vehicles continued with strong growth to beat last year’s September demand by 32.6% after 16,060 cars were sold.
Conversely, petrol car sales were down 1.1% on September 2015, but still accounted for the majority of overall sales, with 235,272 units sold.
The Ford Fiesta continues to be Britain’s favourite model, selling in 19,769 units compared to 14,570 for the second placed Vauxhall Corsa. The Volkswagen Golf sold in 11,003 units last month ranking it third, beating the Ford Focus by a slim 11 cars.
The top 10 best-selling cars in the UK over 2016 so far are as follows:
Ford Fiesta 96,139
Vauxhall Corsa 64,925
Ford Focus 57,137
Volkswagen Golf 54,934
Nissan Qashqai 50,923
Vauxhall Astra 44,771
Volkswagen Polo 43,642
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 34,994
Audi A3 33,240
The SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes cites the new 66-registration plate as a key reason for September’s strong sales.
“The new plate, combined with a diverse range of exciting new models featuring the latest technology, has certainly helped draw buyers into showrooms and many are taking full advantage of the attractive deals and low interest financing options on offer,” he said.
“Business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite.”
Chris Bosworth, director of strategy at Close Brothers Motor Finance, isn't so confident in September's figures. He said “As we have seen for the last six months, private sales have continued to fall causing the growth trajectory of new car registrations to steadily drop. Many consumers are now starting to gravitate to well-priced ‘nearly-new’ stock as manufacturers reduce the number of subsidised finance offers available. With the business market likely to be impacted by the outcome of the current HMRC review into company cars, the private sales market will become increasingly important to overall registrations in the UK.
Bosworth made reference to recent announcements from UK-based car makers, including Nissan and Vauxhall, that threatened reduced investment or rising prices due to Britain's impending exit from the European Union. “[This means] the make-up of the UK car industry in the long term is far from certain, he said.
"Looking forward, new innovations – such as safety improvements, alternative fuels and models – released by manufacturers will be the main drivers in encouraging people to continue to purchase new cars over used vehicles in the coming months," he added.