By Marcus Leach

New car registrations for September were down 0.8% on the same period last year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Traditionally September is a bumper month for car registration data, contributing nearly 20% of the overall yearly transactions. Not only was data down last month, but the SMMT believe sales will be flat next year.

September saw 332,476 vehicles signed up, with the most popular vehicles being the Ford Fiesta and Focus.

It means the UK car market is on track for a 5% fall on last year's performance, when the industry and motorists were still benefiting from the tail-end of the government's scrappage scheme, which subsidised the replacement of dated vehicles with cars straight off the production line.

The SMMT's chief executive, Paul Everitt, said a hoped-for recovery in sales had yet to materialise, forcing the adjustment of predictions that vehicle acquisitions would rise by up to 5% in 2012. Instead, they will just edge above the predicted 2011 total of 1.92m units, to 1.96m.

“The all-important September market outperformed expectations and is less than 1% below last year at 332,476 units,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive.

“We expected 2011 to be a challenging year and we are on track for a full year total of around 1.92 million new car registrations, 5% below 2010. SMMT has revised down its 2012 registrations forecast to 1.96 million units; a reflection of the continued weakness in UK domestic demand and the uncertainty across European economies. It is important government acts to sustain an investment-led recovery and implements measures to encourage more private sector investment in R&D, skills, new plants and machinery.”

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