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"Strong consumer demand” among positives for September auto industry

“Strong consumer demand” among positives for September auto industry

Franchised dealers have seen strong consumer demand in September, according to the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA). The new 70-plate helped push just under 330,000 new registrations last month, according to the latest figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), amidst a turbulent market as dealerships get back to business after closures and restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Brexit concerns.

However, The NFDA, which represents over 4,500 automotive franchised retailer outlets in the UK, has said members have been experiencing high levels of enquiries but supply constraints have dampened consumer interest. Both the NFDA and the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have also highlighted battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars sales as a positive trend for the otherwise difficult period.

September new car registrations

Overall, the UK new car market declined 4.4% in September. SMMT data showed private registrations fell 1.1%, compared with a 5.8% decline in Fleet registrations and a 31.9% drop for Business.

The closure of dealerships and manufacturers during the economic shutdown to control the pandemic has, of course, affected the year-to-date sales. New car sales are down by just over a third compared to the same point last year, with dealerships only starting to open back up again in June.

Uptake in battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid cars is promising, however, as they accounted for more than one in 10 registrations during September. New BEV sales rose by 184.3% compared with the same month last year. Read next week’s blog for further details on increasing consumer demand for AFVs.

What does the NFDA have to say?

Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive, said: “Despite a decline in new car sales, franchised dealers saw strong consumer demand in September, with nearly all dealerships open and good deals available on new plate vehicles. Although parts of the UK are facing restrictions, franchised dealers continue to operate as normal taking all the necessary precautions to serve their customers safely.

“Dealers have been experiencing high levels of enquiries, but consumer interest was partially offset by supply constraints that have affected a number of brands over the past weeks. Positively, battery electric and plug-in electric vehicles saw strong growth.

“With the UK’s exit from the EU approaching, we urge the Government to reach a deal which protects the supply of vehicles and parts to the UK.”

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