New car sales: Lowest dual plate September since 1999

Published:  05 October, 2020

Ongoing uncertainty resulting from the pandemic helped push the new car market down 4.4% last month, according to figures published today (Monday 5 October) by the SMMT, in what was the weakest September since the dual number plate system in 1999.

328,041 new cars were sold during the month, which also followed low sales in September 2018 and 2019, when the introduction of  the WLTP emissions testing regime delayed vehicle certification and caused supply problems across Europe. September 2020 was also 15.8% lower than the 10-year average of around 390,000 units for the month.

Private registrations fell by 1.1% over the month. Demand from business was also reduced, with around 10,000 fewer cars joining larger fleets, representing a 5.8% decline.

On the other hand, demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 184.3% compared with last September, with the month accounting for a third of all 2020’s BEV registrations.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:  “During a torrid year, the automotive industry has demonstrated incredible resilience, but this is not a recovery. Despite the boost of a new registration plate, new model introductions and attractive offers, this is still the poorest September since the two-plate system was introduced in 1999. Unless the pandemic is controlled and economy-wide consumer and business confidence rebuilt, the short-term future looks very challenging indeed.”

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, observed: “Drivers’ concerns about the stability of their finances could also be pegging back demand for new cars and prompting many to look for better value on the second hand market instead.”

Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive, added: “With the UK’s exit from the EU approaching, we urge the Government to reach a deal which protects the supply of vehicles and parts to the UK.”

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