Last September was the highest on record, with the Ford Fiesta ranking top; however, experts say the effects of the EU referendum are just beginning to show

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

Mini 36,738

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.

Read more:

Get August's UK registration figures here

Get October's UK registration figures here

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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Comments
10

5 October 2016
Thought 16 plates were numerous but I'm staggered at the number of 66 plates already.

Wonder what affect, if any, this has on trade-in values? I prefer to buy using cash rather than finance so haven't a clue how it works, but years ago when I looked at PCP, weren't deals sold on the idea the GFV left you with a deposit towards your next PCP? Given the amount of relatively low miles 2-3 year old cars on the market, would be surprised if there's anything left over to use as a deposit these days.

5 October 2016
SMMT can't wait for sales to fall, they've probably already got their headlines written

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

5 October 2016
I do plenty of driving. I've seen two and one of those was on a motorcycle.

This bubble's really going to burst when all the bogans have to give those leased fiestas back.

5 October 2016
Economic outlook is about sentiment as much as numbers. Something that's been overlooked, I think, is that 52% of voters wanted Brexit, are presumably happy with the result and confident about the future. So they are carrying on spending regardless. Business leaders and economists looking at the data and longer term outlook are, overall, rather gloomy about our prospects. Still, we're a consumer economy these days, so keep on shopping!

5 October 2016
scrap wrote:

Economic outlook is about sentiment as much as numbers. Something that's been overlooked, I think, is that 52% of voters wanted Brexit, are presumably happy with the result and confident about the future. So they are carrying on spending regardless. Business leaders and economists looking at the data and longer term outlook are, overall, rather gloomy about our prospects. Still, we're a consumer economy these days, so keep on shopping!

Where will the shoppers come from after Brexit? I bet a large part of this growth is due to the fact the population is growing because of immigration. 2.6M cars sold in 2015, a 6% bump from the year before. Net immigration was something like 350k. If half those folk buy a car...

5 October 2016
scrap wrote:

Economic outlook is about sentiment as much as numbers. Something that's been overlooked, I think, is that 52% of voters wanted Brexit, are presumably happy with the result and confident about the future. So they are carrying on spending regardless. Business leaders and economists looking at the data and longer term outlook are, overall, rather gloomy about our prospects. Still, we're a consumer economy these days, so keep on shopping!

Where will the shoppers come from after Brexit? I bet a large part of this growth is due to the fact the population is growing because of immigration. 2.6M cars sold in 2015, a 6% bump from the year before. Net immigration was something like 350k. If half those folk buy a car...

5 October 2016
What's the German Car Industry going to do after an "Hard-Brexit"???
Ford for example will be stuffed because 40% of its European production is sold in the UK!!
OK, the luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes & Audi will be able to absorb 15% import tariffs, but the others will be hard hit.
If Nissan moves Qashqai production to Spain/France it will also be hit badly.
The governments got to make sure the UK gets access to the free market..................

5 October 2016
This is great news for UK because here in US, September was lower, the drop was mainly on larger trucks and SUVS.

Foodie, Auto Enthusiast, and blogger. Follow me on my blog; Get My Auto.

5 October 2016
Only 3 out of the top 10 vehicles sold are made in the UK, the other 7 all come from European factories so that surely gives us greater power when it comes to access to the single market as putting a 10% charge on UK vehicles being sold to Europe will also mean that we would put a 10% tariff on all the vehicles sourced from Europe.

Optima2

6 October 2016
Actually with the devaluation of the Pound to the Euro (now over 10% cheaper), everything is in the interest of UK manufacturers.
European made cars will not only be 10% more expensive because of the exchange rate but will also have another 10% tariff slapped on them.
Whereas UK manufactured vehicles with a 10% import tariff will be eliminated by the fall of the value of the Pound.

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