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Fleet market falls in August ahead of plate change

New car registrations declined across the fleet, business and private markets in August with  buyers holding out for the new registration plates.

April's decline in registrations has been attributed to buyers' rush in March to beat the VED changes.

Fleet sales were down 3.2% in August ahead of the September plate change.

The data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that overall new car registrations fall -6.4% in August to 76,433 units – marking the fifth consecutive month of decline but still the third biggest August in 10 years.

Fleet registrations declined 3.2% to 41,899 units while sub-25 ‘business’ registrations were down 14.1% to 937 units. Private registrations fell 9.9% to 33,597 units.

Last month also saw diesel registrations continue to decline ahead of possible tax changes for diesels in the Autumn Budget. An overall total of 30,305 diesels were registered last month – down 21.3%. In contrast petrol registrations were up 3.8% to 42,160 units while alternatively fuelled vehicles were up 58.3% to 3,968 units. In particular, demand for petrol hybrid and pure electric battery powered cars increased substantially, up 74.9% and 62.5%, while plug-in hybrid registrations rose 38.5%.

For the year to date, the SMMT said the overall car market remained broadly in line with expectations, down -2.4%, with 1,640,241 new cars registered. Fleet registrations remained static at 859,713 units compared to 859,948 for the first eight months of 2016 while business registrations were down just 0.4% to 61,594 units from 61,855. And private registrations fell 5.3% to 718,934.

Commenting on the figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, highlighted that August is typically a quiet month for registrations, adding: “With the new 67-plate now available and a range of new models in showrooms, we anticipate the continuation of what are historically high levels of demand.”For more of the latest industry news, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.