UK car sales declined for a sixth straight month in September, the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, (SMMT) showed Thursday. September is usually a strong month for car sales as its when the new registration plates are released.
According to the vehicle registration body, 426,170 new cars were purchased and registered during September. That’s a 9.3% decline from the 469,696 purchases in the same month a year earlier.
“September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern,” said SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. “Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases.”
A number of car manufacture share prices move lower on the data, including:
- Ford Motors.
The disappointing data were also exacerbated by ongoing confusion over air quality plans, the SMMT said.
Details of the report showed that diesel powered cars took the biggest hit, with 21.7% fewer sales than a year earlier.
A bright spot, however, was that demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) rose again in September, by some 41%. The figures show 22,628 AFV’s were purchased in September 2017, up from 16,052 a year earlier.
It’s likely that direct uncertainty over Brexit and emission scandals weren’t the only drivers of the decline in car sales.
The weaker pound has continued to make it difficult for car manufacturers to offer enticing deals to potential customers. Meanwhile, the price of some used cars also fell, making them an attractive option for some consumers.
Looking at car sales in the year-to-ate, the figures show a 3.9% fall in new car registrations since the beginning of the year. If the current trend continues, it’s possible car sales could post the first annual decline since 2009.