New car registrations in the UK dropped for the first time in more than three and a half years, in October, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 177,664 new cars were registered in the month, representing a decrease of 1.1% on last year’s figure and following 43 consecutive months of growth.

However, year-to-date figures show 2,274,550 cars have been registered so far this year, 6.4% more than at this time in 2014, and the best year-to-date performance on record.

Diesel and petrol market shares remained stable, while the demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continues to show positive growth. October AFV volumes were up by 13.8%, reaching 3% of the total market for the first time, as more consumers switch to the increasing range of ultra low emission vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The UK car market has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and, so far, 2015 has been a bumper year with the strongest performance since the recession. As expected, demand has now begun to level off but the sector is in a strong position, as low interest rates, consumer confidence and exciting new products combine to attract new car buyers. The current full-year growth forecast remains on track.”

Sue Robinson, director of National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, commented: “Following over three and a half years of growth, the October market has stabilised after last month’s 65-plate change.

“As 2015 draws to a close, we are still seeing a strong market but as expected the market is beginning to slow down as we enter the final months of the year.”