New car registrations declined in the key month of September for the sixth month in a row, new figures have shown, suggesting consumers are feeling increasingly squeezed.
The figures, by the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showed 426,170 new units were registered in September, down 9.3 per cent on the year before.
The figure was doubly disappointing because September is the month a new number plate is introduced, which traditionally causes car sales to rise. In the year to date, new car registrations have declined 3.9 per cent.
The SMMT said demand for petrol cars fell 1.2 per cent, while diesel fell by 21.7 per cent, its sixth consecutive decline. However, demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles continued to jump, rising 41 per cent .
Meanwhile, demand from private buyers fell 8.8 per cent on last year, while demand from business buyers declined 5.2 per cent and fleet buyers fell 10.1 per cent.
“September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern," said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT.
"Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases.
"The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges. Manufacturers’ scrappage schemes are proving popular and such schemes are to be encouraged given fleet renewal is the best way to address environmental issues in our towns and cities.”