Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that UK new car registrations increased by a massive 23.1% in August 2018, compared to the same month last year.
August is traditionally a slow sales month, coming directly before a new registration plate launch in September.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes explained that this year’s freak result was due to manufacturers pushing to sell cars ahead of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) legislation, which came into force in September.
“It would be wrong to view the market as booming,” he said. “In the long term, however, the new emissions certification test will give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or plug-in.”
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), added: “UK retailers are pleased with August’s performance, due to the pull forward effect on the market.
“However, we need to be aware that the market is likely to be affected over the remainder of the year and into 2019 by WLTP and the issues arising from its introduction, including the impact on company car tax and Vehicle Excise Duty rates.
“It is encouraging to see that sales of alternative fuel vehicles saw an impressive growth, however, lack of clarity surrounding emissions and, in particular, diesel is still affecting consumer demand.
“The NFDA strongly urges the government to use the Autumn Budget to clarify its position on diesel.”
The WLTP is designed to be more representative of real-world fuel economy than the much-criticised New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Taking 10 minutes longer than the NEDC, it includes less time with the vehicle at a standstill and a higher average speed, now 29mph.