There were 180,168 cars registered last month, according to industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with the year-on-year increase driven by the fleet sector, which enjoyed a 4.2 per cent rise. Private registrations dipped 1.1 per cent.
Some 2.33 million cars have been registered in 2016 so far, up 2.5 per cent on the same period last year, as buyers continued to be attracted by new, lower-emission models and favourable finance deals.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “September’s number plate change is always a hard act to follow so the market’s growth in October, albeit moderate, is welcome news.
“Low interest rates, affordable finance packages and a range of exciting new models helped attract buyers into showrooms and we now look to government to ensure consumer and business confidence remains buoyant.”
IHS Global’s chief European and UK economist Howard Archer said: “For now consumers are still benefiting from decent fundamentals, including record high employment and reasonable purchasing power.
“The serious concern for the car sector going forward is that it looks inevitable that consumers’ purchasing power will progressively weaken over the coming months as inflation rises appreciably and earnings growth is muted – which will dilute consumers’ ability and likely willingness to splash out on gig ticket items like cars.”
The top three best sellers last month UK-wide were the Ford Fiesta, and British-built Vauxhall Astra and Nissan Qashqai.