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New car registration figures have fallen for the first time in 43 months. October’s figures, published this morning, show a 1.1% decline.
Private registrations were down 2.6% and business 22.8% for the month. Fleet registrations were up, however, 2.2%.
Stability was also the tone of the National Franchised Dealer Association’s comment.
Director Sue Robinson said: “”Following over three and a half years of growth, the October market has stabilised after last month’s 65-plate change.
“As 2015 draws to a close, we are still seeing a strong market but as expected the market is beginning to slow down as we enter the final few months of the year.
“Low interest rates, consumer confidence and new products combine to attract new car buyers. The current full-year growth forecast remains on track, and we are encouraged that the growth and stability of the market will continue through the remainder of the year.”
A study by Trend Tracker into the UK aftersales market also suggests that independents are likely to record a 5% growth in numbers in the coming years.
The Castrol Professional Car Servicing & Repair Trend Tracker report reveals that the number of garage workshops has fallen by 14.4% in a decade – with the number of franchised workshops declining by 19.2%.
From 2004 to 2014, the report identifies a contraction of mechanical service and repair workshops from 24,943 to 21,358, with franchised workshops accounting for 1,235 of this decline. Independent workshops and fast-fits account for the remaining 2,350 sites, a 12.7% reduction in numbers.
Trend Tracker analyst Chris Oakham says: “Since the late 80s, the market for servicing and repairs has trended downwards in real terms, and the number of workshops has followed suit.”
Over the next five years, the Castrol Professional-sponsored report forecasts that the number of workshops overall will remain broadly level – with around 21,565 sites set to be in operation by 2020, however service volumes are expected to continue the long-term trend for decline.
From 2004, the number of annual retail servicing and repair transactions in the UK has dropped from 50.4 million to 46.9 million in 2014. By 2020, this is forecast to fall by another 9.6% to 42.4 million, partly as a result of rising new car sales populating the car park with younger, more reliable cars with longer servicing intervals.
The fortunes of franchised workshops and independent outlets look markedly different over the next five years, however. The study by Trend Tracker into the development of the UK aftersales market suggests that independents are likely to record a 5% growth in numbers in the coming years as the number of independent MOT testing stations grows.
The number of franchised workshops, meanwhile, is expected to drop by a further 10%, as these sites are inextricably linked to the fortunes of businesses’ new car sales operations.
New signs showing the price of fuel on a section of the M5 are to be introduced between Bristol and Exeter.
The move is part of a trial by Highways England designed to give drivers more information to help their journeys and to boost competition on fuel prices. Five motorway service areas are involved in the trial which, depending on the results, could ultimately be rolled out nationally.
Electronic message signs will show the price of fuel at Gordano, Sedgemoor, Bridgwater, Taunton Deane and Exeter motorway service areas.
Roads minister Andrew Jones said: “The government is on the side of the honest motorists who have raised concerns for too long about petrol prices at motorway service stations. This trial will allow drivers to be much better informed about the cost of fuel and make it easier to plan their breaks around the cheapest deals.”
Chief highways engineer at Highways England, Mike Wilson said: “Providing fuel price information is an important part of a bigger picture – we want road users to be more informed and in better control of their journeys. This means they’ll be better prepared, more inclined to plan breaks and have a positive driving experience.
“It’s still very important for motorists to properly plan their journeys and ensure they have sufficient fuel. Running out of fuel on motorways can be hazardous to yourself and other drivers.”
The trial will run until the end of 2017 during which time Highways England will be monitoring the effectiveness of the signs in providing useful information to road users, understanding the impact on improving fuel prices, and also monitoring whether there are any safety implications such a more cases of running out of fuel.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal has failed to dent consumers’ willingness to buy diesel cars.
That’s one of the findings of an AA-Populus Motoring Panel survey of 27,600 drivers carried out between 13 and 20 October.
More than a quarter of car buyers (28%) say they will opt for a diesel motor, which is one percentage point lower than a similar survey carried out in May and two percentage points down from December 2014.
Between December 2012 and December 2014, the number choosing diesel fell by 10%, but since then the decline has slowed.
Men are also much more likely to choose diesel (35%) compared with just a quarter (25%) of women. Drivers aged 65 and over are most likely to choose petrol, two-thirds (65%) doing so.
Petrol power remains king with half of respondents (50%) choosing this option, higher than the 47% of December 2014 but also down from 51% since May.
Interest in hybrid or electric cars continues to rise with nearly 1 in 10 (9%) now choosing a ‘green’ option. Although numbers remain small, those who say they will opt for a pure electric vehicle has been rising but is still just 1% of all respondents.
David Bruce, director of AA Cars says: “Our own experience suggests that interest in diesel cars on the AA Cars website remains undiminished.
“What’s more, the research suggests that those not choosing diesel do so for a wide range of reasons, most likely being that their mileage is too low to justify the higher cost of buying a diesel – 37% saying that.
“Only 9% agree that the emissions scandal has put them off. More respondents (15%) were worried about potential health effects of diesel exhaust.”
The AA’s online used cars sales platform currently lists 87,530 diesel cars for sale out of approaching 200,000 cars in total. Mr Bruce adds: “Despite the controversy, used diesel car prices appear to be holding up well.”
Overall new car registrations dropped in October by 1.1% year on year, but fleet registrations have still seen growth.
SMMT figures show 177,664 new cars were registered in the month, representing a slight decrease of 1.1% on last year’s figure, ending a record 43 consecutive months of growth.
Fleet registrations remain up, with year on year growth in October of 2.2%, showing year-to-date growth of 11.9%.
Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles were up 3.8%, reaching 3% of the total market for the first time.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The UK car market has gone through a period of unprecedented growth and, so far, 2015 has been a bumper year with the strongest performance since the recession.
“As expected, demand has now begun to level off but the sector is in a strong position, as low interest rates, consumer confidence and exciting new products combine to attract new car buyers. The current full-year growth forecast remains on track.”