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Fleet registrations rise but overall car market declines in October

Latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that 177,664 new cars were registered in October, representing a decline of 1.1% on last year’s figure.

However, the market remains buoyant year to date. A total of 2,274,550 cars have been registered so far this year, 6.4% more than at this time in 2014, and the best year-to-date performance on record.

Figures for the fleet sector also remained positive. Last month saw a total of 92,428 units registered, up 2.2% on the figure of 90,459 for October last year. The sector was also up year to date, with a 11.9% rise to 1,119,934 units compared to 1,001,038 for the first 10 months of 2014.

In contrast the sub-25 ‘Business’ sector saw a large decline, down 22.8% last month to 6,411 units from 8,305 in October 2014. YtD, the sector was down 3.2% to 96,234 units from 99,385 units.

Responding to the data, the SMMT said that the figures show a stabilisation of the market and said that it remains on track for the full-year growth forecast.

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.”

As expected, the figures show a drop-off in sales for the Volkswagen Group in the light of the emissions scandal. Registrations of Volkswagen-branded cars fell 9.8% last month whilst SEAT was down 32.2%, Skoda was down 3.0%. However, Audi was up 2.2%.

Other major brands also experienced declines, including Ford, which fell 8.8% in October and Vauxhall, down 16.4%.

Commenting on the VW registrations, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, told BBC Radio 5 live: "Given the issues they've [Volkswagen] been experiencing over the last six weeks or so, some small adjustment is to be expected."

He added that the fall in Volkswagen car sales could be down to the "overall market levelling off", but also said that the emissions scandal "invariably will cause some people to think again about purchasing, or just to find out more information, which can delay sales".

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 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. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.