Car registrations surge to highest point since 2008

September has seen a surge in car registrations with the highest monthly total since March 2008. The upswing in private sector growth has fuelled customers returning to the market after a prolonged period of withdrawal. Increased fuel efficiency has also helped to drive down running costs leaving a more attractive prospect for consumers. Success with private car sales have been complemented by rising growth in fleet and business volumes. Fleet sales rose by 5.4 per cent in September while the small business sector saw a rise of 15.3 per cent.

SMMT reports:

63-plate boost helps September market rise 12.1% to hit 403,136 registrations.
September 2013 is best performing month since March 2008 (highest volume in 66 months).
Private registrations have risen 16.7% over year-to-date, helping overall market rise 10.8%.
More than 1 in 7 new cars registered in the month is UK-built.
Average 2013 new car CO2 emissions at 128.6g/km; average fuel economy around 55mpg.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said:

400,000 new cars registered for the first time in more than five years, the UK market is reflecting growing economic confidence.

Robust private demand has played a major role in this growth with customers attracted by exciting, increasingly fuel-efficient new models that offer savings in the cost of ownership. This is the 19th consecutive month of steady growth and, with fleet and business demand still to reach pre-recession levels, we believe the performance to be sustainable. The latest 63-plate should deliver positive results into next year.

However despite the positive numbers from the industry some analysts remain cautious about prospects for the near future.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for IHS Global Insight:

Car manufacturers will be very aware that it is not all plain driving aheadwith consumers’ purchasing power under pressure from inflation currently running markedly higher than earnings growth while businesses generally remain keen to contain costs.

Specifically, latest data show that annual earnings growth was limited to 1.0% in the three months to July while consumer price inflation stood at 2.7% in August. Furthermore, although real household disposable income rose by 1.5% quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter , this followed a dip of 1.7% in the first quarter and it was down by 0.7% year-on-year.