Ford Fiesta 2015New car sales in Britain posted their 41st consecutive month of growth in July 2015, but the rate of increase has slowed compared to the year-to-date rate of 6.5%.

178,420 new cars were registered in July, which is 3.2% up on 2014.

Not that the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) is too concerned at this stage: indeed, it’s more in line with its predictions from the start of the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While more moderate than in recent months, July’s rise in new car registrations is good news, and indicative of what we expect for the remainder of 2015.”

And the outlook for the rest of the year? More of the same. “With demand having reached a record high in the first half of the year, we anticipate more stable growth in the coming months.”

The Ford Fiesta was, as ever, the best-selling car in July 2015, followed by the Ford Focus and, a surprising few thousand registrations behind, the Vauxhall Corsa.

The growth of downsizing

1,555,309 new cars have been registered so far in 2015, although some sectors are rising much faster than others. Superminis, small family cars, SUVs and crossovers are all outpacing the market as buyers switch from larger or more conventional cars.

In a decade, supermini registrations have grown 22.7%, says the SMMT – “a result of consumers downsizing to smaller cars that offer significantly improved refinement, comfort and specification than their equivalents a decade ago”.

Dual purpose have also grown a hefty 88.5% since 2005, thanks to the introduction of the crossover category but also because SUVs themselves have become greener and entered more affordable sectors – witness the rise of mini SUVs such as the Jeep Renegade.