Commenting on the new car registrations data, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, “As the outlook for consumer spending remains uncertain, the growth in new car registrations demonstrates the strength of confidence in the UK market. Private buyers accounted for over 50 per cent of registrations in September, snapping up the new '53' number plate and taking advantage of great deals offered by franchised dealers. As competition in the UK market intensifies and prices continue to fall, consumers are clearly benefiting and driving the market towards a healthy year-end total”, he continued.
New car registrations in the UK are expected by the SMMT to reach 2.52 million units in 2003, 120,000 units up on the initial January outlook. This will make 2003 the second highest annual market on record. In 2002 registrations reached 2,563,631 units and 2,458,769 in 2001. The September market is the largest single monthly market accounting for around 17 per cent of total annual registrations. 2003 saw the second highest September on record at 439,365 units, up on 2002's 432,661 units but slightly below 2001's record 443,265 units.
The Vauxhall Corsa was the biggest-selling model in September, the first time since February 2000. The Ford Focus slipped to second place after 40 consecutive months at the top but retained a firm grip over year-to-date registrations.
The Ford Mondeo topped the diesel table for both September and the year-to-date. Diesel registrations rose for the 36th successive month, up 20.8 per cent in September and 16.9 per cent over the year-to-date.
Registrations of UK-built cars were on a par with 2002 volumes. Jaguar, Land Rover, MINI, MG Rover and Nissan all reported solid growth in September. Registrations of cars built overseas rose by 2.5 per cent in September and 4.1 per cent over the year to date. Chrysler Jeep, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, smart and Suzuki were among those reporting gains.
The SMMT notes that since 2001 new car sales have grown to record volumes as falling prices, rising incomes and low interest rates have increased their affordability. The EC's bi-annual price survey in May 2003 showed that UK car prices are now among the lowest in Europe as cuts in UK list prices were underlined by the recent appreciation of the euro. They have combined in recent months with low interest rates and widespread dealer discounting.