VW Golf outsells Ford Fiesta by just 43 cars, as new car registrations fall in August

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Author: | Updated: 05 Sep 2017 12:48

The latest figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show new car registrations fell for the fifth consecutive month in August, down –6.4% compared with the same month last year.

The last month of the 17 plate saw the Golf retake its position as the month's most popular car.

76,433 new cars hit the road in August, bringing the year-to-date total up to 1,640,241 – down –2.4% compared with the first eight months of 2016 – in line with the SMMT’s forecasts for the 2017 market.

In fact, the recent drop in registrations isn’t as drastic as it might appear. 2016 was a record-breaking year for the industry. It’s also worth remembering August is one of the quietest months on the registration front in anticipation of the September number plate change.

August new car registrations (2001 - present)

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “August is typically a quiet month for the new car market […] with the new 67-plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand.”

Graham Hill, car finance expert at the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, added: “Despite a fifth consecutive monthly decline for the new car market, there's little reason to think this is any more than a seasonal blip. August is typically a slow time of the year for new car buying as buyers hang on for the 67 plates.”

AFVs defy summer slump

The market for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continues to expand, with more people than ever getting behind the wheel of a hybrid, plug-in or electric vehicle in August than ever before. AFVs now account for a total of 5.2% of the UK new car market.

AFVs on the up, diesel down

Conventional petrol power also grew this month, with more 3.8% more registered in Aug 2017 than in 2016. So why are registrations still down? Glance at the diesel figures and you’ll see –  demand is down by over –21%, which now means its market share for 2017 dips below 40% too.

The sizable dip is of course due to the negative publicity that’s surrounded the fuel in recent months, with the government’s recent announcements surrounding pure petrol and diesel cars giving a helping hand to the market for hybrid and electric vehicles.

The recent arrival of the 67 plate will be the real test for the UK car market.

Read more: All you need to know about the 67 plate

"The upturn in alternatively-fuelled vehicles will cheer the government and policymakers that the plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel have given an early bump to hybrids and electrics.

And the top ten…

The Volkswagen Golf was back out in force in August, no doubt boosted by its recent refresh. It takes the number one spot from the Ford Focus, which itself has fallen into fourth position.

Year-to-date, the Fiesta is still way out in front and is back in second position for August. With the new Fiesta now available, we’re sure the ubiquitous supermini will continue to hold its position as 2017’s most popular car. Here’s the top ten in full…

The top ten most popular cars in August and in the year-to-date.

What’s next for the UK car industry?

New registrations are still in line with the SMMT’s 2017 forecasts, but there is still uncertainty for the market due to the on-going Brexit issue. The government’s recent announcement about the future of petrol and diesel will also be a factor to consider in the coming months, but the recent arrival of the all-new 67 plate will be the real test for the UK market’s resilience.

Chris Bosworth, director of Close Brothers Motor Finance said: “With Brexit negotiations well underway and the government announcing radical changes to the sale of fossil fuelled cars, the motor industry is entering a wave of prolonged uncertainty. This will likely have an impact on consumer spending habits. The Bank of England has already announced that car finance deals have eased as a result.

Hill added: “September will be the real test of whether continuous downbeat talk around new car finance deals - specifically PCPs - are having a real time drag on the market. June's 8% drop in new car finance business volumes from the FLA could be the canary in the coal mine and a sign of worse to come."

You can find more SMMT industry news here

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