Cautious buyers apply brakes to new car sales

Car sales levelled off last month after a record 2015 and strong growth earlier this year, new figures show.

New car sales grew just 0.1% last month, the SMMT said. Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

New car registrations lifted just 0.1 per cent in July, according to figures released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 1,599,159 new cars have been registered so far in 2015, putting demand in the year to date 2.8 per cent higher than for the same period in 2015 following a strong first quarter.

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July followed the trend seen throughout this year, with lower private registrations offset by fleet purchases, which increased by 5 per cent.

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles remained strong, with 24.7 per cent more registrations compared with the same month in 2015.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After a healthy start to 2016 and record registrations in 2015, the market is showing signs of cooling.

“The automotive market is a vital part of the British economy and it’s important government delivers the economic conditions which instil business and consumer confidence.”

Chris Bosworth, strategy director at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said

the SMMT UK registration figures for July show “a continuation of the slowdown in the growth trajectory of the UK new car market which we saw emerge over the second quarter”.

He said the total figure also “continues to disguise the increasing difference between the performance of the private sales market (where for the fourth month in a row sales have fallen year-on-year) and the fleet market where growth continues to be seen”.