During August 83,066 new cars were sold, down 2.3% on August 2004.
Sue Robinson, director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) National Franchised Dealers Association, commented: 'The uncertainty and mixed messages on where mortgage rates are heading along with rising fuel prices have caused a general consumer slowdown. Mortgage equity withdrawal is running at its lowest for four years, and borrowing is down, but reports of the death of the new car sales market have been greatly exaggerated.'
She adds: 'August is generally a quiet time with many private buyers tending to buy in March and September.'
'In a weaker August new car market, diesel continued to star', commented SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan. 'As fuel prices soar, buyers are really switching on toits benefits and last month marked almost five consecutive years of diesel growth. Cheaper motoring and greater model choice are just two of its selling points; better fuelconsumption is also helpingto lower average carbon dioxide emissions from the tailpipe.'
The Ford Focus reported a 30.6% rise in August volumes, extending its position as the UK's top seller both in the month and over the year-to-date. For the second successive month it was also the top diesel seller, narrowly outpacing the Volkswagen Golf.
The diesel market posted its 59th successive monthly increase in August. An increase of 10.7% was well up on previous monthly gains this year.
Diesel penetration rose by 4.3% last month to 36.3% of the market, hitting 35% over the year-to-date.
Ford's Mondeo remains the top-selling diesel model over the year-to-date, although closely followed by the Focus and Golf.