- Total market volume dipped 1.4% to 181,589 units, but - Diesel registrations rose to a record 29.7% share - Year-to-date registrations are now up 0.3% to 2,254,539 units - Private buyers continue to fuel the new car market with nearly 50% of sales, and full-year private registrations are expected to be the highest since 1990 at around 1.25 million units. Commenting on the new car registrations data, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said, “October registrations are stable in what has been a phenomenal year for the new car market. Diesel volumes are stronger than ever and are heading towards a record breaking 2003. The supermini segment has also shown outstanding results with nine months of positive growth.
“These records are underlined by private buyers, taking nearly 50% of the market so far this year. However, with the expected rise in interest rates, we are likely to see the market ease over the next few months.”
The SMMT now forecasts new car registrations in the UK will reach 2.565 million units in 2003, 165,000 units up on the initial January outlook. This will make 2003 the highest annual market on record. In 2002 registrations reached 2,563,631 units and 2,458,769 in 2001. Diesel penetration for 2003 is expected to reach a record high of 27%, while the SMMT forecasts it will climb to 34% by 2005.
Superminis remain the largest market segment, with over a third of the market and occupying five of the top 10 slots. Supermini volumes rose for the ninth consecutive month and climbed 6.2% for the year-to-date.
The Ford Focus regained its best sellers slot in October after slipping to second place in September.
UK-based manufacturers Honda, Jaguar, MG Rover, MINI, Nissan, and Toyota all reported gains despite a dip in total registrations of UK-built cars; registrations of cars built outside the UK rose 0.3% in October and 3.8 per cent over the year-to-date.
Whereas observers of the main continental European markets are hopeful of a recovery in new car demand in the next two years, the SMMT expects UK volumes in 2004 and 2005 to ease slightly due to a slowdown in consumer spending, brought on by today's and possibly successive rises in interest rates, and a predicted sluggish housing market.