The UK new car market grew by just 1.4% in October, with 180,168 vehicles registered after the previous month’s plate-change, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The 4.2% rise in fleet registrations managed to push the modest overall rise, with a 4.2% increase in registrations, while private purchases fell 1.1%, continuing a trend of several months.

By fuel type, diesel registration declined by 2.4% year on year in October, with its diminished market share remaining the largest at 49.4%.

Petrol vehicles saw a 4.9% year-on-year sales increase in October, boosting market share to 45.7%, as alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) sales rose 12.4% to a 3.3% market share.

The Ford Fiesta was the bestselling model in October, with 7,806 registrations recorded, for a year to date sales total of 103,945.

The total number of new cars registered so far in 2016 rose to 2,330,663 units, an increase of 2.5% from the same period in 2015.

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

“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.”

John Leech, head of automotive at KPMG UK, stated that despite falling private sales, he expected new car sales in 2016 to reach a record level.

Leech said: “With prices set to increase by small incremental amounts over the next year, it is tempting to wonder if the consumer market might decline further.

“However, our analysis of Personal Car Plan returns gives confidence that this is unlikely as very few car buyers are facing negative equity in their car loans at present. Therefore we maintain our forecast of another all-time record year of car sales at 2.7 million in 2016 falling back a little in 2017.”