Leading motor industry figures have clashed over claims that vehicle manufacturers pre-registered just 125 cars that were disposed of in September. The new figures, published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, fall dramatically short of the 500,000 cars a year Mitsubishi has estimated are pre-registrations.
But the SMMT has stood firm, saying the results showed that if there had ever been a practice of pre-registering vehicles, then it had been stamped out through the Supply of New Cars Orders 2000, which requires car makers to publish monthly pre-registration figures.
But leading industry figures, including Garel Rhys, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University Business School, said the figures did not tell the whole story on pre-registrations.
He said: 'This is the Competition Commission's own fault. They only asked for the manufacturers to say how many cars they pre-registered. Pre-registrations could well be taking place, but further down the supply chain.'
A spokesman for the Association of Car Fleet Operators added: 'The idea that all UK manufacturers have only pre-registered 125 cars in the past few months defies belief.'
But a spokesman for the SMMT was adamant the figures were accurate, adding: 'If manufacturers registered cars, but did not sell them for a three-month period, they would not be listed, but to do that would not be economically viable.'
Dealership pre-registrations are not included, but the SMMT added that as manufacturers were not allowed to incentivise such a practice as a way to meet sales targets, there would be little benefit in dealers pre-registering any vehicles.
Mitsubishi described the figures as 'farcical'. A spokesman said: 'Without this oversupply, the car market would be much more orderly and there would not be the residual value problems that we have today. If the motor industry does not come up with a realistic set of figures, then the Government will be forced to take another look at the industry.'