August is typically a quieter month due to the change, but last month’s registrations were the lowest in three years
Jimi Beckwith
5 September 2017

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.

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“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

5. Vauxhall Corsa - 38,038

6. Vauxhall Astra - 36,360

7. Volkswagen Polo - 32,266

8. Mercedes-Benz C-Class - 31,471

9. Mini - 28,647

10. Mercedes-Benz A-Class - 26,785

Read more: 

UK car registrations hit record levels in 2016 - but are tipped to fall in 2017

Diesel car registrations slump by 20% in May 2017

European car registrations drop in July for first time in almost three years

UK car manufacturing growth spurred on by 67-plate change

Join the debate


5 September 2017

Disappointed that May and Hammond have not reversed or revamped trhe crazy Osborne cockup.

5 September 2017

So when will manufacturers' accept that perpetually pushing diesel cars so as to meet their CO2 targets means that customers are not being offered the cars they really want; i.e. Petrol. Time for the industry to accept this and see a move back to petrol as an interim solution ahead of petrol hybrids and more pure electric cars in due course.

6 September 2017

There is no need for people to buy conventional petrol cars. Practical, affordable, reliable hybrids have been available for 13 years or more. Just fill the tank with petrol and drive. No need to plug it in. No new infrastructure needed. If an EV doesn't work for you, get a hybrid. 

5 September 2017

From Sept 2017, tougher regs will cut pollution, even under real world, and not just lab conditions.

Diesel engines are more fuel efficient. So a fall in sales will reduce EUs chances of meeting its target of cutting average CO2 emissions of new cars from 130 in 2015 to 95 g/km in 2021.

And therein lies the dilemma.  Without diesel, EU will not be able to comply with this limit.   


5 September 2017

I think you'll find 8 out 10 cars in the list have models below 100 g/km already so 2021 won't be a problem for the majority. And that's before allowing for the influx of EV's in the next 4 years.


typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

5 September 2017

There is only 1 on the list. Small hatchbacks abound. Except the C class which is heavily discounted on a PCP so is a bit of an anomoly

5 September 2017
jamesf1 wrote:

There is only 1 on the list. Small hatchbacks abound. Except the C class which is heavily discounted on a PCP so is a bit of an anomoly

The C class is really bucking the trend as the D segment saloon market is deflated in favour of crossovers (we lost the Honda Accord etc.)

10 September 2017

These figures need to fall a hell of a long way yet.  It is stupid that in a world of cars with greater reliability there is more and more push for replacing them with new cars sooner and sooner.  The real future is to enhance the longevity of cars and to keep them running for longer and longer.  That is the only truly environmentally friendly option for the future of motoring.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


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