FLA director general announces "record high" for August as SMMT posts largest sales volume for 66 months

September 2013 saw 403,136 registrations of new cars, the highest monthly total – and the first month to surpass the 400,000-registration mark – since March 2008, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

September is regularly the second-busiest month of the year for new car registrations, behind March, as both months introduce the latest licence plate. Even so, the figure was 12.1% above September 2012 and roughly six times that of August 2013.

The SMMT attributed the rise particularly to individual retail registrations, as opposed to fleet or business registrations which are yet to recover to pre-recession levels. Private registrations were up by 17.88% year-on-year in September to 208,844 registrations and by 16.71% for the year-to-September to 869,421 registrations.

Fuelling this rise, the SMMT cited demand for fuel-efficient models which would reduce the cost of ownership, as well as strong finance packages.

At the end of September research company Incite published figures demonstrating the popularity of switching to cars which cost less to run, although only 4% of consumers surveyed said they had been motivated by finance to make a new purchase.

However, ahead of the latest official figures, Stephen Sklaroff, director general of the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA), told attendees at the FLA autumn drinks last week almost three-quarters, 74.5%, of all new, private car purchases were now being financed by Association members, a record high.

According to the FLA, consumer finance new business was up by 6% month-on-month in August, "mostly driven by motor finance," which was up by 20% year-on-year on new cars and 17% on used cars by volume.

Multiple brands and their respective partners also marketed headline retail funding deals ahead of September in expectation of rising sales volumes and in preparation for Q4 2013.

Comment, Ryan Dignan, director, Car Loan 4U:

"To have the highest volume of sales for new cars in over five years is a significant rise of growth for the market…[and] proof that the 63-plate for September has had a real impact on the market for new cars amongst buyers.

"It’s great news to hear the recovery for new car sales in the UK has picked up for September and hopefully, it sets the trend for the rest of the year."

richard.brown@timetric.com