New car market demand falls by 6.7 per cent in October

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The new car market has continued a downward trend with a significant decline in October, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Compared with the same month in 2018, 10,348 fewer cars were registered – a 6.7% decline. The SMMT claims the figures reflect “a tough environment for business and consumers as economic and political uncertainty continued to impact confidence”.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, released a statement saying the results are “incredibly disappointing”.

It continued: “Hopes had been high that September’s small jump in momentum, sparked by new registration plates, would mark a turning point. A 6.7% fall in sales is surprisingly sharp despite dealerships’ tireless efforts to attract buyers to forecourts.”

However, positive news came as the SMMT revealed that almost one in 10 (9.9%) of cars registered were in the ‘alternatively fuelled’ category, meaning hybrid or battery electric, which is a new record.

The latter was up by 151.8% over the same period in 2018, yet wasn’t enough to cover for a 28.3% decline in diesel car sales. Overall, the market has declined by 2.9% to date this year, which SMMT chief Mike Hawes acknowledges is the eighth month of decline and shows the market is “in need of an injection of confidence”.

He added: “Whether the general election delivers a ‘bounce’ to the economy remains to be seen but, with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra-low and zero emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.”