Top 10: UK car sales Q3 2017

As it's one of two plate-change months, September's figures are often used to gauge the state of the UK new car market. So, because last month's 426,170 registrations were 59,902 fewer than 2016's figure, should the industry begin to panic?

Well no, not really, since the 2017 total needs to be viewed in context. A lot of demand shifted into the first quarter to avoid April's revised Vehicle Excise Duty rates, for example. Indeed, year-to-date registrations are down by only 84,084 units, which represents a meagre 3.9% reduction.

Furthermore, the sales volumes seen in both September 2015 and September 2016 were abnormally high. Compared to 2005, 2006 and 2007 (i.e. before the global financial crisis) or 2014, the September 2017 number actually looks very similar.

An alternative explanation is provided by Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. He said, “Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases.

“The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.”

Whether or not concerns about future emissions legislation are affecting overall registrations is debatable. However, the shift in fuel preferences is clearly continuing.

Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q3 2017 - By Fuel Type
Fuel 2017 2016 Change Change %
Diesel 883,574 1,023,767 -140,193 -13.7%
Petrol 1,088,712 1,056,785 +31,927 +3.0%
Alternative 94,125 69,943 +24,182 +34.6%
Total 2,066,411 2,150,495 -84,084 -3.9%

The top ten list stays virtually unchanged. In fact, apart from the Volkswagen Polo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class swapping places, the order is identical to the second quarter's league table.

Ford Focus RS with Ford Performance Option Pack (2017) Front Side
The Ford Focus still occupies the new car registrations
runner-up position (but the Volkswagen Golf is close behind).

Top 10: Cumulative UK Car Registrations Q3 2017 - By Model
Position Model Registrations Market Share
1 Ford Fiesta 75,814 3.7%
2 Ford Focus 57,526 2.8%
3 Volkswagen Golf 57,018 2.8%
4 Nissan Qashqai 53,197 2.6%
5 Vauxhall Corsa 46,600 2.3%
6 Vauxhall Astra 41,250 2.0%
7 Volkswagen Polo 40,455 2.0%
8 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 39,055 1.9%
9 Mini Hatch 36,784 1.8%
10 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 34,547 1.7%

Related posts:
Top 10: UK car sales Q2 2017
Top 10: UK car sales Q1 2017
Top 10: UK car sales 2016 - winners and losers

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