New car sales slump again as buyers hold out for 70-plate deals

Published 04 September 2020

New car registrations slumped by 5.8 per cent in August 2020 compared to the same month last year, as buyers waited for the arrival of the new 70-plate. 

>>> Top 10: Best-selling cars in August

The SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) figures show that 87,226 new cars were registered in August. Petrol cars led the charge with a 57 per cent market share, while diesels followed taking 16 per cent of the market – a 40 per cent drop from 2019.

Sales of pure electric cars rose by 78 per cent, with 5589 cars sold, though this only accounts for 4.9 per cent of new car registrations year-to-date – some way off the government’s 70 per cent target for 2030.

“August is recognised as being a slow month"

“August is recognised as being a slow month, so we shouldn’t assume the market is going into reverse," said Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website 

"Hopefully, the new ‘70’ reg plate will boost sales throughout September at a time when the car industry is learning to adapt to a difficult post-lockdown environment...Electric car registrations are once again the positive amongst the gloom, with another strong month for pure electric sales,” added Buttle.

Merc -dealer

Market commentators are predicting September to be a bumper month for new car sales as dealers look to profit from the introduction of the new 70-plate and offer discounts to hit quarterly targets. 

Nissan has knocked £5500 off the £26,770 price of a 1.5-litre diesel Nissan Qashqai, while SEAT has reduced the asking price of the 95PS 1.0-litre petrol Ibiza SE to £16,475 - a £2610 saving on the list price.

Head to a Mercedes dealership quoting the code 'GLC500' and you can save £3500 off any version of the new Mercedes GLC barring the AMG 43 performance version. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The decline is disappointing, following some brief optimism in July. However, given August is typically one the new car market’s quietest months, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from these figures alone.

"September is likely to provide a better barometer. As the nation takes steps to return to normality, protecting consumer confidence will be critical to driving a recovery.”


Zippy123    on 5 September 2020

£16.5k for a 95hp super mini from Skoda! No wonder sales are low!

Superminis should cost £10k. Mid sized Focuses etc should be about £14k and Softroaders £16k.

hissingsid    on 6 September 2020

Why all the fuss about the 70-reg number plate?
For a few hundred pounds, the sort of people who consider such trivia to be important can disguise the age of their cars with dateless registrations.

gavsmit    on 7 September 2020

Exactly Zippy123 - spot on - car prices have gone nuts in the past few years, with new model launches or even very mild refreshes being the perfect excuse to slap thousands more onto the asking prices.

The entry level Yaris is now just £90 short of £20,000 yet it is nowhere near big enough or practical enough to use as a family transport, despite having a big car price.

I truly believe that car manufacturers are rapidly increasing the price of ICE cars, and far out accelerating the rate of inflation as they do it, to make ludicrously priced EVs look more 'affordable'. People thought that EVs would get cheaper over time as batteries became cheaper to manufacture, but there's no way the car makers are going to do that. Especially when EVs will effectively reduce the number of options a car can be bought with (i.e. not the same range of different engines and fuels / hybrids as now) so reduces their opportunities to fleece more money out of people with more choices available.

And I can't stomach to listen to the lies and propaganda that the corrupt SMMT churn out these days - one of their reps was on BBC Breakfast the other morning and all I heard was 'range anxiety', 'charging times' and 'an EV driving differently from an ICE car' but not one mention of the biggest issue which is the stupendously high purchase prices! I for one am not buying a new car as a protest to the ridiculously high prices, so will be keeping my car for far longer than I have any other, and will buy nearly new when the time (eventually) comes round to get rid of it. Hopefully I'm not alone.

It's all a scam just to make people accept getting into tens of thousands of debt for an EV, or treating car ownership like a mortgage but you never actually end up owning anything despite spending huge amounts of money - and whilst a house appreciates in value, a car depreciates rapidly - and is probably the single biggest waste of money that you could ever encounter in your life.

hissingsid    on 7 September 2020

Another ploy which manufacturers use to keep prices and repair costs high is loading even the smallest cars with "tech" which few owners want or need.

The runaway sales success of Dacia shows that there is a strong demand for no nonsense low tech cars, and if you have ever wondered why there are no automatics in their range it is because they would take sales from Dacia's parent company Renault.

alan1302    on 8 September 2020

Most people get a car on a PCP so the cost of the car does not matter - it is all about the monthly cost

Zippy123    on 8 September 2020

Most people get a car on a PCP so the cost of the car does not matter - it is all about the monthly cost

I buy cash as my money gets <1% in the building society. Why would I pay for a PCP unless it was a similar percentage or 0% when I have the savings.

hissingsid    on 9 September 2020

Most people get a car on a PCP so the cost of the car does not matter - it is all about the monthly cost
Most people get a car on a PCP so the cost of the car does not matter - it is all about the monthly cost

I also buy my cars for cash. Perhaps I am not "most people".

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