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UK sales of new cars rise modestly in October

Staff Writer |
Sales of new cars in the UK rose 1.4% in October, driven by growth in fleet registrations.

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The number of cars registered in October came to 180,168, compared to 177,664 the same month a year ago, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Fleet registrations increased 4.2% to 96,440 while registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles jumped 12.4% to 75,987, the highest ever level achieved in the first 10 months of the year.

In contrast, private registrations dropped 1.1% to 77,821.

"September's number plate change is always a hard act to follow so the market's growth in October, albeit moderate, is welcome news," said Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT.

"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 chief UK and European economist, Howard Archer, said it is possible October's modest growth rate in car sales could be a sign that consumers are becoming more cautious about making major purchases such as cars amid uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Archer pointed to the decline in private car sales.

"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," he said.

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