Business

New car sales fall again in October, say manufacturers

Jaguar Land Rover car Image copyright Getty Images

Sales of new cars in the UK recovered slightly in October, although they were still down on a year previously.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), sales fell to 153,000 units during the month, down about 3% year on year.

It is an improvement on September, when there was a 20.5% decline.

The new figures come as Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is to reopen its Solihull plant in the West Midlands after a two week shutdown.

Grant worries

The SMMT said there had been strong growth in alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFV), with combined plug-in hybrid and battery electric registrations up 30%.

However, it warned that that government cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant could undermine future growth.

Manufacturers are also worried about the potential risks of Brexit. They fear that an end to frictionless trade could disrupt their "just-in-time" supply chains, hurting production.

JLR, the UK's biggest carmaker, had also blamed weakening global demand and falling diesel sales for its decision to pause production in Solihull from 22 October.

Last week JLR said car sales had fallen sharply, taking it into a loss for the three months to October.

Its revenues were £5.6bn on sales of 129,887 vehicles in the three months to the end of September. As a result JLR's parent company, Tata Motors, reported a net loss £110m for the quarter.

Explaining the thinking behind the Solihull closure, where JLR makes Range Rover and Jaguar models, the firm said it wanted to achieve "operational efficiencies" and "align supply to reflect fluctuating demand globally as required".

Image copyright Getty Images

The shutdown came after a move to a three day week for 2,000 workers at the firm's Castle Bromwich plant and a promise in April to lay off 1,000 workers across its West Midlands' plants.

The UK car industry has been struggling in recent months, as diesel sales fall and carmakers face tougher new emissions standards.

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