By Debbie Holden 09 Oct 2018 5 min read

New car market falls by a fifth in September

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has released registration figures for new cars which show that the market was down 20.5% in September. Around 87,000 fewer cars were registered last month in comparison with the previous year. The SMMT has put this down to the confusion surrounding diesel policy and new testing requirements which have caused supply issues.

Following the trend we’ve seen throughout 2018, diesel suffered the most in September, with a 42.5% decline year-on-year. Registrations of new petrol vehicles showed a decline of 6.7% year-on-year. Hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles, however, continued to show growth with an increase of 3.9%.

The only vehicle type to register growth in September was the luxury saloon, with MPVs and Specialist Sports cars registering dramatic declines of 54.8% and 50.9% respectively.

The Ford Fiesta continues to be the most popular new car in the UK this year. The Vauxhall Corsa and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class proved the second and third most popular in September.


Source: SMMT


The new Worldwide Harmonised LIght Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) was introduced from September 1st which all cars sold in the EU now have to undergo. The test measures the fuel economy of vehicles as well as all regulated emissions and CO2. The new test is more dynamic than the previous test, carried out at higher speeds and over a longer distance.

Another new test, the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test, will supplement the WLTP. New cars will be required to take this four-day test to prove their ‘on the road’ emissions. They will be tested in a range of driving situations, from stop-start city driving to higher-speed open road driving.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said that the decline in new registrations is “no surprise” given the fact that the industry has “barely a year to reapprove the entire European line-up”.

He described the current circumstances as “exceptional” and noted that other major European markets have seen similar declines. On a brighter note, Hawes said that “as backlogs ease, consumers and businesses can look forward to a raft of exciting high-tech cars and a market keen to recover lost momentum”.

Hawes added that the introduction of these tests would result in “more realistic performance data” and that “car buyers will be better informed to choose the cars that best suit their driving needs in full confidence that they are the cleanest and most fuel-efficient ever produced”.