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.