UK October car sales drive forward

Despite the recession the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) claims new UK car sales accelerated last month with a total of 134,944 new cars registered in October - a 2.6% rise on the 2010 figure. Although the news is welcome for the UK motor industry, new car sales numbers are still down on the year overall. And car owners are set to be hit by new fuel price rises come January and next August.

Fleet help

Let's get deep in some figures. Sales for January-October 2011 amount currently to 1,688,038; that's a 4.5% slackening on the same period of 2010. However registrations in the last three months increased by 0.9% compared to 2010, thanks to business and fleet buyers snapping up new models: fleet and business registrations grabbed 59.2% of October sales.

VW's Golf was the best selling diesel model in October while Ford's Fiesta remained the overall best selling model. Demand for diesel and alternatively fuelled cars was stable during the month, whilst petrol cars – helped by growth in small car segments – picked up.

October registrations were bolstered by a sharp recovery in the small car markets, with the Supermini segment up 17.4% says the SMMT. The UK car market remains massively underpinned by the fleet market; fleet buyers sales, for example, were up almost 8% year-on-year to 73,712 in October.

Fuel duty rise

"We expect market conditions to remain challenging and hope the Chancellor's Autumn Statement later this month will help to boost economic growth and consumer confidence," said SMMT boss Paul Everitt. Consumer confidence is still highly fragile, and and is still lower than at any time last year, according to the British Retail Consortium.

September's high RPI inflation rate - 5.6% - now means a substantial increase in fuel duty next August. Added to the 3.02p per litre hike due on 1st January 2012, that should mean a fuel duty increase next year of around 8p - you're warned now.

SMMT October 2011 stats

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