London – The UK new car market declined 4.4% in September, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The sector recorded 328,041 new registrations in the month – the weakest September since the introduction of the dual number plate system in 1999 and some 15.8% lower than the 10-year average of around 390,000 units for the month, SMMT said 5 Oct.
The poor monthly performance follows very low volumes recorded in September 2018 and 2019, when regulatory changes surrounding the new WLTP emissions testing regime delayed vehicle certification and caused supply problems across Europe.
According to the UK association, the relaxation of Covid lockdown restrictions from June saw consumers return to showrooms and factories restart production lines.
However, it added, the market still faces continued pressure, with “myriad challenges over the next quarter.”
Among other issues, Brexit uncertainty and the threat of tariffs still concerns the industry.
In addition, SMMT said, a shift towards zero emission-capable vehicles is “demanding huge investment from the sector, and stalling fleet renewal across all technologies.”
Furthermore, consumer and business confidence is threatened by the forthcoming end of the government’s furlough scheme, an expected rise in unemployment and continuing restrictions on society as a result of the pandemic, it added.
The association said there was “little realistic prospect” of recovering the 615,000 registrations lost so far in 2020, meaning that the sector now expects an overall 30.6% decline by the end of the year, equivalent to some £21.2 billion in lost sales.