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Growth slows but September registrations still at decade high

car purchase

The September 2014 new car market was the biggest for the month since 2004, ending with 425,861 registrations.

It marked the 31st consecutive month of growth, although the increase slowed to 5.6% ahead of September 2013.

Registrations for the year-to-date have reached 1,958,196, up 9.1% on the first nine months of 2013.

After March’s 18% surge, September’s more moderate growth indicates demand is starting to level off, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "September’s strong performance underlined the continuing robustness of the UK new car market, particularly in the context of last September’s bumper volumes.

"Demand for the new 64-plate has been boosted by intensifying confidence in the UK economy, with consumers attracted by a wide range of exciting, increasingly fuel-efficient, new cars. In the months since March – which saw an 18% jump in registrations – the growth has shown signs of levelling off as the market starts to find its natural running rate."

Chris Sutton, managing director of motor finance provider, Black Horse said: “It is no surprise that we have witnessed a rise in car sales this month given it includes the new September plate change. However, we would anticipate the rate of growth in car sales to level out to more moderate levels.

“Whilst manufacturers and dealers alike have been working very hard to offer competitively priced finance deals to entice customers into the showroom they’ll now be turning their attention to consider how they will retain this custom and continue to make a profit.

"What is certain though is that as long as interest rates remain low and manufacturers offer affordable finance deals alongside technologically advanced cars the motor industry will continue to produce good news for the UK economy.  All in all we have a lot to be proud of in how the industry has performed since the economic recovery has begun especially compared to our European counterparts.

TrustFord (formerly Ford Retail) operations' director John Leeman said: “We always see a healthy demand for the new plate in September and the new 64 registration would certainly be a key factor in why the sector recorded its 31st month of continuous growth.

"Such is the demand, a number of our dealerships across the UK stayed open late on August 31, so some of our customers could pick up their cars at midnight and be amongst the first drivers in the UK to sport the new plate.

“This hugely impressive run, which has been driven primarily by increased consumer confidence, was also mirrored at TrustFord. During the last three months we have seen a 15% increase in retail sales volume on the same period last year.” 

Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: "The heady cocktail of a new plate change, great finance deals and the appeal of increasingly fuel efficient cars resulted in September being another strong month for new car sales.

"Consumers are also benefiting from stable residual values enabling them to trade in their old cars for shiny new models at a similar monthly cost. While the market is likely to balance out over the final few months of the year, 2014 is destined to be another success story for dealers and manufacturers.”

Models with the highest registrations in September:
  1 Ford Fiesta 23,266
  2 Ford Focus 13,508
  3 Volkswagen Golf 13,011
  4 Vauxhall Corsa 12,506
  5 Volkswagen Polo 10,312
  6 Fiat 500 9,122
  7 Vauxhall Astra 8,861
  8 Audi A3 7,317
  9 Peugeot 208 6,968
  10 Nissan Qashqai 6,847

 Quarterly increases in new car registrations, Q1 2013 to date

For more SMMT data click here.

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  • nigel gray - 06/10/2014 13:30

    How many are registered with a end user and how many are on dealer forecourts burning money? Pre registration due to manufacture expectations and at dealer cost is rife.

    • Billy Bob - 06/10/2014 14:07

      @nigel gray - couldn't agree more Nigel. After all, are we to believe that 9,122 people actually purchased a brand new Fiat 500 during September? You can't even use dark nights as an excuse! HMRC will continue to turn a blind eye to pre-reg if VAT income continues to be generated at such high levels.

  • Roger King - 06/10/2014 15:55

    Lies, dam lies and statistics no doubt

  • Thankfully retired - 06/10/2014 18:51

    Under the freedom of information act it should be possible to find out how many cars were dealer self registrations in the last 4 days of the month then we might see a more realistic figure for SALES as opposed to registrations .These figures will provide yet another opportunity for the manufacturers to increase sales targets again due to an increasing market Just who is kidding who here just a shame the dealers havnt got the B---S to stand up to the manufacturers and refuse to pre register

  • fed up of negative, unsuccessful people trying to bring us down! - 08/10/2014 10:43

    Perhaps we should accept the figures as they are but realise that the UK car market is a complex beast. Nobody will doubt that there are vehicles pre-registered, of course there are but the profitable amongst us will realise that isn’t a bad thing. To the contrary, it is purely a part of the market dynamic in the UK. We should consider a number of points: 1) Not all vehicles registered in the last days of the month are pre-reg. As a business, we will register any customer vehicle we can and often these are just off a boat (!) to get to a monthly objective. We also will hold off our registrations until later in the month where possible in order to take advantage of any additional manufacturer incentives! 2) There are no fields full of pre-reg cars. A volume of vehicles are registered this way and we make good profits from them. There is a customer in the UK who is looking for a pre-reg deal (even though a PCP car is often cheaper). We are simply feeding and benefiting from another route to market. A competitor of ours is Arnold Clark – they make fortunes from this avenue to market. So, get off your negativity and let’s be proud of the great job we are jointly doing to get more new, cleaner, more efficient, safer cars on the roads.