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New car registrations in the UK fell in October

By Philip Smith

Low consumer confidence blamed for overall slump, but registration for electrified vehicles is up

New car registrations in the UK fell 6.7 per cent year on year in October.

While fleet demand remained fairly stable, a 13.2 per cent drop in demand from private motorists caused the overall fall.

There was a time when car buyers would wait for the new registration dates before parting with their cash. Now March 1 and October 1 – the two days when new registrations come into effect – can come and go with little sightings of the new plates.

Figures released today from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show there were 143,251 vehicles sold last month, 10,348 fewer than in October last year. It blamed political and economic uncertainty hitting consumer confidence for the drop.

There is also a wide variation in the fuel types of cars being bought. Sales of diesel cars, now seen as the biggest polluters, fell 28.3 per cent and sales of petrol driven cars were down 3.2 per cent.

Hybrid electric cars increased by 28.9 per cent, with 7,950 sold. Battery electric vehicle registrations almost tripled, up 151.8 per cent to 3,162 vehicles.

These “alternatively fuelled vehicles” reached a record 9.9 per cent market share with 14,231 registered.

“The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline.”

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