August’s new car registrations were the lowest since 2014, marking an unusually low pre-reg change month compared with the past two years.
Registrations in August had been increasing annually since 2010, but last month's registrations shrunk by 6.4% on 2016, which was the strongest year since 2005.
Driving the slump was the UK public’s shunning of diesels; in excess of 8000 fewer diesel cars were registered in August 2017 compared with August 2016; a 21.3% decrease. Petrol cars remained buoyant, however, with a 3.8% increase.
The tide turning on diesel is even more apparent when comparing market shares. In August 2016, the market was split into 47.2% diesel, 49.7% petrol and 3.1% alternative-fuelled vehicle (hybrid, hydrogen or electric). In August 2017, diesel fell to 39.6%, while petrol and alternative-fuelled vehicle registrations grew to a 55.2% and 5.2% share respectively.
Private, fleet and business buyers all showed decreases. The private market posted the biggest fall, declining almost 10% as 3672 fewer cars were registered by private buyers. Fleet registrations decreased by 3.2%, while business registrations fell by 14.1%, although this only equates to 154 cars.
Across the year so far, a softer 2.4% decline has been recorded, equating to over 40,000 fewer cars registered. A total of 1.64 million cars were registered in the year to date.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief Mike Hawes played down the relatively low figures and predicted a more promising October, saying: “August is typically a quiet month for the new car market as consumers and businesses delay purchases until the arrival of the new number plate in September.
“With the new '67' plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand.”
The top 10 most-registered cars in August was a more budget-friendly list, with no premium offerings in the rankings. Cars that are not usually seen in the list, such as the Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and Vauxhall Mokka X, took the place of more expensive cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mini and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, although these all maintained their respective eighth, ninth and tenth positions in the year-to-date rankings.
To read more about the UK’s bestsellers, click here, but the top ten across the year so far are:
1. Ford Fiesta - 64,988
2. Ford Focus - 47,291
3. Volkswagen Golf - 44,218
4. Nissan Qashqai - 39,698