Car sales flat ahead of vital plate change

Ben Southwood
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NEW CAR registrations crept up in August, just ahead of the September arrival of the new “62” plate, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said yesterday.

Registrations inched up 0.1 per cent on last year, reaching a total of 59,433 for the month, meaning that 40,000 more cars were sold in the first two thirds of 2012 than in the same period of 2011.

August is a relatively slow month for car sales, usually accounting for just three per cent of the year’s business, compared to roughly 17 per cent in September – due to the plate change.

Though the overall picture looked flat, it hid some more significant changes in sub-markets. Diesel sales were 3.6 per cent down on 2011, while four per cent more vehicles with petrol engines were sold this year. And while private sales jumped over 12 per cent, fleet sales collapsed 8.5 per cent, and businesses reduced their buying 4.7 per cent.

SMMT expects the year to herald total sales just under 2m, with the September rush for the “62” plate accounting for around 330,000 of these. The Ford fiesta continued to be the country’s new car, with 2,993 bought over the month, and a full 70,096 bought over the year to date.