New car sales dip after 43 months of growth

The Ford Fiesta is in its seventh year as the UK top seller.

The Ford Fiesta is in its seventh year as the UK top seller. - Credit: Ford

New car registrations levelled off with sales dipping for the first time in more than three and a half years last month.

After 43 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, last month's registrations dropped 1.1% to 177,664 new cars. compared to the previous October, but year-to-date figures show that the new car market is still very buoyant.

The total market for the first 10 months of this year is still up 6.4% compared to the same period of 2014 at 2,274,550 units – the best performance on record, according to latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

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 an ever more diverse range of ultra low emission vehicles.

The high-value market segments saw the biggest gains, with specialist sports and luxury saloon vehicle registrations growing 59% and 23% respectively.

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.'

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Top sellers last month were the Ford Fiesta, 8,577, Vauxhall Corsa, 5,061, and, despite the company's emissions scandal, the Volkswagen Golf, 5,057, with the Audi A3 sixth with 3,884 sales and the Volkswagen Polo seventh with 3,233.

For the year so far, the top sellers are the Fiesta, 116,631, Corsa, 77,896, and Ford Focus, 73,966.