UK new car sales decline slows, but Oct still down 3%
The fall in UK new car registrations continued in October, although at a slower rate, than the sharp decrease seen in September, industry figures revealed on Monday.
October sales were 2.9% lower year on year at 153,599 vehicles, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said. This was markedly better than the 20.5% annual fall in September.
Continuing uncertainty over government policy on diesel saw demand for these new, low emission vehicles fall by a further -21.3%.
"Vehicle excise duty upheaval, regulatory changes and confusion over diesel have all made their mark on the market this year," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
Year to date sales were down 7.2% 2.06m. Hybrid and plug-in registrations were up 30.7% but the SMMT warned that government cuts to “plug in” grants could stymie growth.
Emissions testing backlogs were still causing shortages across some brands, the SMMT added.
Private new car sales fell 1.0% year-on-year in October to 69,231 units and were down 6.5% year-on-year over the first 10 months of 2018 at 928,377.
This indicated that consumers were cautious about making major purchases "as the extended squeeze on their purchasing power only gradually eases" said Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club.
New sales to the fleet sector fell 5.2% year-on-year in October to 79,611 units. This followed a substantial decline of 22.4% in September.
Fleet sales were down 7.8% year-on-year over the first 10 months of 2018 at 1,054,532 units.
"Even allowing for uncertainty over government policy on diesel cars affecting fleet sales, it appears that some businesses have been reluctant to replace or add to their fleets amid a cloudy economic outlook fuelled by Brexit uncertainties," Archer said.