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New plate system knocks September registrations

Continued buyer confusion over the new plate system knocked some of the shine off September's new car registrations. Total sales, at 432,661 units, were just 2.4 per cent down on last year's highest-ever return.

A slight cooling off in private buyer demand in the month, despite a 1.58 per cent fall in new car prices, was offset by a surge in fleet and business sales, with diesels making a particularly strong show.

Overall, the main loser was the blue oval marque. Ford's loss of 10,421 unit sales represented the bulk (98 per cent) of the sales downturn suffered by all manufacturers.

Vauxhall was a major beneficiary. Thanks to a strong performance by the Corsa and Astra, its sales were up 2.59 per cent at 52,912. The year-to-date figures are now 5.1 per cent head of last year and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the industry is on target to break last year's 2.46m record.

But the UK is bucking the trend in Europe, where other countries are experiencing a sales slowdown this year.

Analysts claim the UK cannot continue to grow and predict customer demand will dampen down before the end of the year.

The SMMT remains upbeat, however, pointing out that September was still the second highest ever month for new car registrations.

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