The UK new car market was up marginally last month, but this was not enough to offset the overall decline this year which leaves 2019 down by 2.5% compared with the same nine months in 2018.
Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed September saw growth of 1.3%, but this was compared with a 20.5% decline in the same month in 2018, when new emissions regulations and lack of testing capacity across Europe affected supply.
Total sales last month were 343,255, bring the total for 2019 to 1,862,271, leaving the year-to-date market trailing 49,000 units behind this time in 2018.
SMMT said this stood in stark contrast to other major European markets, which this September rallied in double digits.
Diesel registrations again fell substantially, down 20.3%, leaving market share for the month at 22.6%, while petrol cars were up 4.5%, taking a market share of 65.5%.
Battery electric cars (BEVs), which saw the biggest percentage growth of all fuel types, were up 236.4% (5,414 units) as new models boosted registrations, but still only had 0.7% market share.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) also saw growth for the first time in six months – albeit on the back of a 22.3% decline in the same month last year. Year-to-date PHEV registrations are now 5.2% below the same period two years ago.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “September’s modest growth belies the ongoing downward trend we’ve seen over the past 30 months. We expected to see a more significant increase in September, similar to those seen in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, given the negative effect WLTP had on all European markets last year. Instead, consumer confidence is being undermined by political and economic uncertainty.
“We need to restore stability to the market which means avoiding a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, moreover, agreeing a future relationship with the EU that avoids tariffs and barriers that could increase prices and reduce buyer choice.”