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18th month of growth in new car registrations sees out the 13-plate

August was the 18th month of consecutive rises in the UK’s new car market as registrations ended 10.9% ahead year-on-year.

The 65,937 cars registered in the final month of the 13-plate have driven up the year-to-date total to 1,391,788 units.

Private registrations saw the biggest gain, up 14.7% to 31,608 cars, but the fleet and business sectors also experienced improvement, up 7.4% to 32,386 units and 13.4% to 1,943 units respectively.



♦ Private registrations show biggest gain, up 14.7% to 31,608 cars  
Fleet and business sectors also experienced improvement, up 7.4% and 13.4% respectively  
SMMT’s predicted 7% year-on-year rise for September suggests industry’s recovery is slowing  

“UK new car registrations have now risen consecutively for a year-and-a-half,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s new chief executive.

“Private and fleet buyers are clearly capitalising on attractive deals and new technologies against a backdrop of increasing economic confidence.

“Ahead of the September plate-change, August always has far

fewer registrations, but the 10.9% rise this month bodes well for the new 63-plate.”

The Ford Fiesta has remained the monthly best-seller, followed by the Vauxhall Astra in 2nd place, the Volkswagen Golf in 3rd spot and the Ford Focus in 4th.

August is traditionally the second-smallest market of the year. The initial push of the 63-plate in September is expected to deliver at least 7% year-on-year growth in the month, said the SMMT, and so exceed 380,000 registrations.

However, the preceding five months have all achieved double-digit increases, so it suggests the industry’s rapid recovery so far this year is expected to slow a little.


The risers

Ford achieved 10.45% growth year-on-year in August and continues on its 2013 charge with an 11.83%  rise to date, outperforming the industry as a whole and boosting its share by almost 0.2ppts.

Its retail share of the market to date has also increased by 1.3ppts, to 13.5%.

Mark Ovenden, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: “It is significant that private customers have driven up our share of more profitable retail sales, which account for a higher proportion of registrations in the important September sales month.”

The Ka, Fiesta, B-Max, Focus, C-Max and Kuga are all selling more strongly, Ford said.

Vauxhall outsold its own August 2012 result by 19.8% to reach 8,242 registrations last month, almost half of which were due to Astra and Corsa orders. In the eight months of this year, its registrations have risen 12.95% to total 159,047 units.

Nissan, the UK’s fourth largest mainstream brand, currently has a 5.35% share of the market thanks to growth of 14.28% to date, reinforced by an August result that was 26% ahead on August 2012 at 3,566 registrations.

It appears to be gaining at the expense of Peugeot, whose market share has dropped 0.2ppts despite its 6% growth this year.

However, Peugeot UK managing director Tim Zimmerman told AM during this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show that he is satisfied with the brand’s performance and it is growing in the most profitable channels, namely retail and true fleet.

Fiat continues to grow strongly this year, with attractive campaigns for its 500 and Panda and the C-segment 500L now in the market. Its registrations in August totalled 1,887 units, a 21.35% rise year-on-year, and its year-to-date total of 35,920 units is 16.8% or 5,168 cars ahead.

Hyundai also enjoyed a strong August performance, with a 15.77% increase to 2,599 cars. Year-to-date, the South Korean brand is barely keeping up with the overall market, with 9.6% growth.

In the premium car market, Mercedes-Benz keeps banging out the cars. Its August result was 28.6% ahead at 3,058 cars, taking its year-to-date total to 65,368 registrations, a 15.12% increase. That means Mercedes has been almost as popular as Peugeot this year.

Registrations of BMWs in August were 27.6% up at 4,401 cars, although over the year to September its 3.64% increase has failed to keep up with total market growth.

The same cannot be said of Audi, with 11.79% growth to date despite an August slip of 2.59% at 3,904 registrations.

Land Rover, too, is ahead by 14.23% year-to-date after a 36.38% rise in August with 806 registrations. It has been helped by sustained demand for the Freelander and Evoque plus a run-out of the Range Rover Sport ahead of the new model’s introduction.


The fallers


Two Fiat Group Automobiles brands, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler, were among the furthest to fall in August. The former’s registrations dropped 39.74% to 141 units, while the latter’s plunged 48.62% to just 56 cars.

Both are heading backwards in 2013 due in part to a lack of competitive products and are expected to struggle for some time yet.

A 106.7% increase in registration by FGA’s performance brand Abarth sounds impressive, but at just 16 units, falls short of filling the hole.

Other notable fallers in August included Citroën, down 10.37% at 2,575 units, and Volvo, down 11.93% with 539 registrations.

Proton, which is waiting for new models in 2014, continued to sell absolutely nothing.

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