August was definitely a buyers’ market this year as consumers took full advantage of the great deals on offer as many manufacturers scrambled to beat the deadline of the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test (WLTP) regulations ” said Ian Plummer, Auto Trader director.

This may have been a very strong August, but of course it’s a false economy. As we saw in March 2017, when registrations were brought forward in advance of changes to Vehicle Excise Duty, WLTP will put huge pressure on September. What’s more, delays in producing and approving new car stock to the new rules is likely to continue into Q4, which will hamper sales as retailers and consumers will be limited to what’s available.

August’s performance highlights the value of having stock in the market with enticing offers to attract more new car consumers. The outlook for the rest of the year is highly uncertain and likely to be very different to typical seasonal patterns. With September sure to be well below par, the extent to which the market can pick up again in the final months of 2018 as new WLTP approved stock begins to filter through will depend on whether manufacturers choose to continue to support their retailer partners and incentivise consumers with strong offers as they did in August.

“While stocks take time to return to normal it’s likely that additional support will be more necessary than usual. Consumers are set to face the option of taking a swifter delivery of a model which may not be their ideal choice, or waiting longer than usual for the right car to be built and delivered, potentially via foreign car plants. Support will be needed to help balance that tricky consumer trade off of ideal choice, value and speed.

“With a fall of -7.7% on the same period last year, the steady demise of new diesels shows little sign of abating. However, there is plenty of good news in the shape of the record rate of adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs). Market share may be relatively small, but as the barriers to entry reduce, and the line of second generation electric and hybrid cars reach forecourts next year, we can expect AFVs to not only catch up with diesels, but also end their slightly niche status by reaching mainstream volumes thanks to mainstream looking cars at mainstream price levels.”

“On our own marketplace, there are clear signs of a wider softening of consumer resistance to AFVs. In July, the UK’s fastest selling used car was a Renault Zoe, a first for a fully electric vehicle.”

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