Demand for new cars falls by around 5% in August

Demand for new cars fell by around 5% last month, industry data shows.

Around 88,000 new cars were registered in the UK in August compared with 92,573 during the same month in 2019, according to preliminary figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Registrations of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are believed to have bucked the overall trend by showing year-on-year growth after several new models were released.

The SMMT said August’s figures should be treated with caution as it is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year for new car sales as it precedes the September number plate change.

Ian Plummer, director at online marketplace Auto Trader, said: “A number of our retail and brand partners had already reached their targets mid-way through the month … so there was little inclination or need to push sales activity.

“What seems far more significant is the outlook for September and beyond, which remains positive as the industry continues its recovery from lockdown.”

The automotive industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with demand down 97.3% in April, 89.0% in May and 34.9% in June.

July saw an 11.3% increase, which was attributed to pent up demand and special offers.

Confirmed figures for August will be published at around 9am.

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