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New car sales ease onto the brakes in September

Emma Haslett
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FRANCE-MOTOR-SHOW
Sales growth slowed in September (Source: Getty)

September is a golden month for two things: 1) Vogue magazine (it's a bumper edition, don't you know) and 2) new car sales, which tend to jump as consumers go mad for the new plate.

But alack, alas, in contrast to August, last month was rather a disappointment, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While the number of new cars sold edged the total for the year over the two million mark, the figure was also just 1.6 per cent higher than last year's, bringing a trend of rather steeper September rises to a halt. Although admittedly, it was still the highest September on record...

Some 469,696 new cars were registered in total as drivers went nuts for the 66 plate, pushing the total number of cars registered to 2.15m units.

Diesel registrations rose 2.8 per cent to 218,664, while the number of new petrol cars bought dipped 1.1 per cent to 235,272.

However, fleet registrations drove most of the growth, rising 7.3 per cent, more than making up for a 1.7 per cent decline in private registrations.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, called the figures "decent if unspectacular".

"There is the possibility that September’s modest growth rate in car sales could be a sign that consumers are becoming more cautious about making major purchases such as a car due to heightened uncertainty following June’s Brexit vote."

And Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT, added that the market will need TLC from the government.

"September is always one of the biggest months for Britain’s new car market.

"The ability of the market to maintain this record level of demand will depend on the ability of government to overcome political uncertainty and safeguard the conditions that underpin consumer appetite."

Listen to the chief executive of Aston Martin talk about Brexit

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