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Fleet sales stable as new car market declines

Date: 05 November 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Fleet registrations held steady amid an overall fall in the UK new car market in October, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Overall registrations compared with October 2018 were down by 6.7%, while the fleet sector recorded a 0.3% rise, private registrations were down by 13.2%, and business sales - classed as to firms with fewer than 25 vehicles - dropped by 30.3% (though these made up only 2.3% of the overall market).

The decline of diesel car sales continued, and in fact sped up in October, with a 28.3% fall meaning diesel cars took less than a quarter of the month's registrations.

Petrol car registrations were also down, by 3.2%, but collected alternatively-fuelled car sales rose to take a 9.9% market share, the highest on record.

This included a 151.8% rise for pure electric cars, which took a 2.2% overall market share, and a 28.9% rise for conventional hybrids, which accounted for 5.5% of overall registrations.

Plug-in hybrids registrations, however, were down by 1.7%, taking a 2.2% overall share.

There was also a 378.1% rise for diesel mild hybrids, which took a 2.3% overall share, and an 8.7% rise for petrol mild hybrids, which accounted for 1.2% of the market.

In terms of market segments, supermini registrations plummeted by 23.4%, while SUV and lower-medium car sales were up by 7.1% and 3.3% respectively.

For the year to date, the overall UK new car market is down by 2.9% compared with 2018.

Reacting to all the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies.

"The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year's eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.

"Whether the general election delivers a 'bounce' to the economy remains to be seen, but with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra low and zero-emission models arriving in the UK's showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car."

Regular bestseller the Ford Fiesta retook the top spot in the sales charts in October, with 5,138 registrations, ahead of the Nissan Qashqai on 4,084.

The top five was completed by the Volkswagen Golf, with 3,976 registrations, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (3,630), and the Ford Focus (3,585).

September's bestselling car, the soon-to-be-replaced Vauxhall Corsa, dropped out of the top 10 entirely.