New car sales down again

  • New car sales fall fractionally in September
  • Fiat, Honda, Chevrolet all suffer big sales slumps
  • Lotus sales fall 83%, Porsche sales rise 53%

New car sales fell in September, according to figures released today from the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders.

With the new '61' plates available from the start of September, a total of 332,476 cars were bought. This represents a 0.8% drop in sales compared to last year and is seen by the industry as the new car market leveling out, after over 12 months of almost continual decline.

Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "We expect 2011 to be a challenging year and we are on track for a full year total of around 1.92 million new car registrations, 5% below 2010."

September transpired to be a tough month for some well-established brands that you may not expect to struggle. Fiat’s sales fell by 25% from 9,365 cars to 7,025. Honda and Renault suffered 20% cuts in sales, while Vauxhall's and Toyota’s fell by 11%. Chevrolet sales dropped by nearly 28%, down from 2,274 cars to 1,644, despite it offering several new models.

Saab, now in dire straits after car production stopped in June this year, found its sales collapsing by nearly 80%; down from 1,212 cars to 272. Most interesting though was the disappointing result from Lotus. The company, which has been promoting the development of several all-new models, saw its sales slashed from 29 cars to just 5 – a drop of 83%.

Porsche however had a great month, with sales climbing by an impressive 53%, from 618 cars to 943. Other companies that did well included Lexus, MG and Hyundai, who all saw increases in sales over 30%.

Those interested in saving the planet (or just their tax bill) may be interested to note that the average new car registered between January and September 2011 had CO2 emissions of just 138.5g/km. That’s down 23.5% from 2000’s average level of 181.0g/km – a significant improvement.

The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling car in September, and remains so for the year-to-date. Close behind are the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa respectively.

In years gone by, August proved to be the first month where sales rose after a continual 13-month decline. August 2010, however, was a very weak month for new car registrations. This means that even though an increase was recorded, it was only an improvement on a poor situation. That's why the rise did not continue into September, historically a relatively strong month.

Paul Everitt commented: "SMMT has revised down its 2012 registrations forecast to 1.96 million sales; a reflection of the continued weakness in UK domestic demand and the uncertainty across European economies."

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