Private car sales fell 6.1% in July, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Last month, 72,727 new private cars were registered, a fall of almost 5,000 compared to the same point in 2015. Private car sales saw their market share fall as a result, down to 40.7% from 43.4% in July 2015.
Year to date, the private car market is still up slightly, with an increase of 1.1% to 721,991, however market share was still smaller than previously, down 0.8% to 45.1%.
Overall, in July, the new car market rose only 0.1%. Year-to-date, it has increased 2.8% from 2015, with a total of 1,599,159 vehicles sold.
The fleet market dominated, increasing registrations by 5% in July 2016 compared to the previous year, for an increased market share of 55.5%. In the year-to-date, fleet sales accounted for 51.1%, and increased by 4.7%.
The bestselling model was the Ford Fiesta, selling 7,990 in July 2016, and 71,823 in the year-to-date.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015 the market is showing signs of cooling.”
Across fuel classes, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) saw the greatest percentage increase, up 24.7% in July, yet market share remained small at 3%. Diesel registrations fell by 1.1%, and petrol saw no change from July 2015.
Sue Robinson, director of National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said: “Despite expected stabilisation in July; UK new car registrations remain at levels not seen since 2004.”
Richard Jones, managing director, Black Horse, stated that he expected even lower sales later in 2016, as uncertainty and challenges continue.
Jones said: “I would expect that the remainder of 2016 will bring further challenges and we might see this reflected in more modest sales figures later in the year.”
Chris Bosworth, director, Close Brothers Motor Finance, expected a boost for the used market in light of the stalling new car sales figures. Bosworth commented:
“The used sector…already grew by 15% year on year during the first quarter. With car production in the UK having sustained somewhat of a golden period in recent years, supply of used vehicles is catching up with demand,”
“This could lead prices to fall, and we could well see consumers opting for well-priced ‘nearly-new’ stock.”