September 2016 was a record month for car sales, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal, but private registrations took a hit.
New figures from SMMT found there were 469,696 cars registered in September, making it the highest September on record. A rise of 1.6 per cent was recorded, month on month.
On a year-to-date basis, there was an increase in registrations of 2.6 per cent to 2,150,495 registrations. This is only the second time the two million-mark has been surpassed in September since 2004.
Much of the increase comes from fleet sales, which were up 7.3 per cent, while private car sales (cars bought in an on-business capacity) saw a decrease of 1.7 per cent to 223,844 units in September, suggesting Brexit has caused some Brits to hold onto their money.
Diesel car registrations rose 2.8 per cent. Petrol cars declined 1.1 per cent, perhaps down to the rise of ‘alternatively fuelled vehicles’, which saw an increase of 32.6 per cent against the same month a year ago.
Hybrids and electric vehicles now represent a market share of 3.4 per cent, SMMT said, suggesting there is a thirst to be more eco-friendly and save money at the pump amid spiralling living costs.
The best-seller in September 2016 and overall was the Ford Fiesta, with a total of 19,769 and 96,139 units registered, respectively. Second in both areas was the Vauxhall Corsa, with 14,570 and 64,295 units registered, respectively.
Third place was the VW Golf, despite the recent emissions scandal, with 11,003 units registered, with the Ford Focus taking fourth place in September (10,992 units) but retaining third place overall (57,137 units).
September is typically a big month because it is home to a plate-change and this year is the new 66-plate. Attractive finance packages and a wealth of choice are said to be some of the reasons behind the record month, as SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes explained.
“September is always one of the biggest months for Britain’s new car market. The new 66-plate, combined with a diverse range of exciting new models featuring the latest technology, has certainly helped draw buyers into showrooms and many are taking full advantage of the attractive deals and low interest financing options on offer,” he said.
“However business and consumers place September orders many months in advance, so the ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite,” he added.
The “political uncertainty” is a reference to the Brexit referendum, which will be going ahead according to Prime Minister Theresa May, who was voted in after David Cameron’s resignation.
The pound sterling hit a 31-year low against the dollar after it was announced the UK could have left the EU by the summer of 2019. The FTSE 1000, meanwhile, reached a record high in the same week.