September new car sales were down 21.2
per cent on the same month as last year at 330,295. Year to date
registrations were 1,794,419, a fall of 7.5 per cent. September
registrations typically account for at least 17 per cent of the
annual total, running a close second to the March volume.

This September was more than 120,000 units lower than the March
figure, falling to its lowest level since the twice-yearly plate
change system started in 1999. With September’s reliance on private
sector interest, it was no surprise that the lack of consumer
confidence was reflected in lower private registrations despite
accounting for 45 per cent of the month’s total. The private sector
was down 23.3 per cent in September. Private demand has fallen in
every month of 2008. Fleet volumes started the year brightly, but
they too have fallen and recorded double digit declines in each of
the past two months. Business volumes have fallen by more than a
third in the past three months.

To provide a boost to new car sales SMMT recommends policy
makers to:

-Review Budget 2008 VED changes: Abandon plans for a new ‘First
Year Rate’ for VED from 2010/11; mitigate the impact of VED rises
and retrospective rebanding from 2009/10, which significantly
increase motoring costs for families and lower income groups.

-Incentivise fleet renewal: Additional revenue raised through
VED changes should be hypothecated and used to aid consumers with
the transition to lower CO2 emitting cars. One measure could be the
introduction of a scrappage incentive scheme that would encourage
owners of older, less efficient cars to replace them with new, more
environmentally friendly vehicles.

-Energy and fuel prices: Government should ensure that energy
price falls are passed onto industrial energy consumers and
motorists swiftly and use its discretion over the timing of fuel
duty rises appropriately to boost consumer confidence in an
economic downturn.

-It is essential that public authorities (national, regional and
local) continue to renew their vehicle fleets.

The economic slowdown, and a corporate focus on cost control,
has been reflected by fleets and company car drivers, who are
increasingly choosing low emission vehicles, and cutting their
annual mileages in pursuit of lower tax bills and reduced fuel
expenditure. An analysis of vehicles added to ALD Automotive’s
fleet of almost 49,000 reveals that of the almost 1,300 units
recently added, their average CO2 emissions dropped below 150g/km
for the first time since the company started the data tracking
process in January 2003.

The automotive industry charity BEN, which runs five care
centres, has seen its Alexandra House home in Merseyside awarded
five stars for quality assurance and a commendation for the Gold
Star Framework End of Life Care. Meanwhile, its Town Thorns, Arthur
Wilson House and Lynwood care centres were also awarded various
marks of recognition for high standards. Jenny Brown, BEN’s
director of care services, commented: “I am delighted and very
proud of the recognition we have received this year for the high
quality of care provision in our residential and nursing
centres.”