September plate change fails to stem decline in registrations

New car registrations in September continued the downward trend experienced in recent months with a 9.3 per cent fall in new car registrations compared with the previous year. As in previous months, diesel cars took the brunt of the decline with a fall of 21.7 per cent. However, alternative fuel vehicles bucked the overall trend experiencing further growth with an increase in registrations of 41 per cent.

Total year to date registrations exceeded the two million mark following the 426,170 cars that were registered, but this was still 3.9 per cent down on the same period last year.

Kevin Lamb, director and automotive expert at RSM, said:

‘Increasing prices and the impact on consumer demand from the ongoing Brexit negotiations are undoubtedly having an effect on car buying. This is despite the scrappage schemes put in place by many brands to help boost sales activity.

‘Retailers are under more pressure than ever to meet targets and there is no room for complacency in business processes to maximise sales potential. Used car sales are more promising, but the extent of pre-registration activity to meet September targets will result in skewed stock levels towards delivery mileage vehicles.

‘Declining new car sales is not the only issue retailers are grappling with. The future challenges of handling electric vehicle products; implementation of GDPR processes; and the expected review of motor financing by the FCA will all require consideration.

‘However, motor retailers are a resilient group and are experienced in adapting to a complex changing market; and the current trading environment will further test this resolve.’