Registrations showed signs of levelling off despite the largest September volume since 2004 according to the latest statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT.)
425,861 vehicles were registered in September, a rise of 5.6% on the year before, with private consumer demand leading the charge. As September is one of the two number plate change months in the UK, along with March, it tends to show strong sales. The September rise was however modest in comparison to March. The earlier plate change was an increase of 18% on the year before.
The levelling off in the market was highlighted by the comparative growth of each quarter in 2014. The first quarter grew 13.7 % on the year before after three successive quarters of double digit growth. In the second quarter of 2014, however, the growth dropped to 7.3 %, more in keeping with the levels of growth seen in the first quarter of 2013.
With a 6.2% rise in registrations in the third quarter, the rate of market growth has therefore slowed markedly in comparison to earlier in the year and the tail end of 2013.
The slowdown in growth, however, masked a still strong market according to Mike Hawes, chief executive at the SMMT who believed the figures likely represented a return to a "natural running rate."
Registrations for the nine months to the end of September were up 9.1% on the same period last year to 1,958,196. This still puts the end of year estimate of 2.45m given by the SMMT in July sales well within reach.
The combined registration figures for March and September have also shown strong signs of a fully recovered car market. Before the recession of 2008, the average registration volume for the two months was 852,000 and between 2009 and 2013 this dropped to 729,000. This year’s figure has risen once again and is now at just over 890,000 for the two months combined.
Private sales lead charge
The private market is continuing to help to drive the recovery of the market. Private registrations accounted for 51.9% of the market, up on the 51.8% of the same month the year before. The private car registrations tally rose by 5.9% in September, compared to a 4.8% rise for fleet registrations. The fleet market share dropped by 0.3% to 42% in September compared to the year before, with the slack taken up by business registrations which were up 0.2%. The 6.1% of registration share attributed to business cars only represented 25,944 cars however.
Alternatively fuelled vehicles continued to show strong gains in overall registrations. September figures leapt 55.9% year-on-year to 9,955 vehicles. While this figure was relatively small, it marked a market share of 2.3% which compared to 1.6% for the year before. This take of share was almost all at the expense of petrol sales, which lost 0.7% of market share to 49.7%. Despite this, petrol remained the UK consumer’s fuel source of choice. Diesel did gain slightly at the expense of petrol, however, growing market share to 47.9%.
According to the SMMT this meant that combined, the cars registered in September now emitted just 122.3g/km of CO2 and had a combined cycle of 59mpg.
Ford’s ever popular Fiesta helped keep the marque at the top in regards to market share with 12.76% of the market. While this is only slightly more than the 12.67% of the market the company had in September 2013, it still represents a year-on-year growth in registrations of 6.34% to 54,322.
General Motor’s Vauxhall brand market share fell 0.58% in September by compared to the same period last year, and now has a 9.67% market share. The sales of their vehicles remained relatively steady, however, at 41,175, down just 0.33% year-on-year. Only one of the other volume manufacturers also failed to increase its sales in September as the Peugeot line-up failed to catch the imaginations of the buying public. Their sales fell 6.76% from 19,160 to 17,865, putting their market share position in jeopardy of being overtaken by Toyota if the fall continues. The Japanese maker sold 17,232 cars in September.
The strongest growing volume maker was, however, Renault, who sold 43.65% more vehicles than in September last year.
Among the prestige makers Maserati’s sales continued to take a significant upturn. Year-on-year the Italian sports car maker grew its sales by 464.29% in September, in real terms though this represented an increase in sales of just 130 cars.