SMMT boss Paul Everitt said the decline was in line with its recently downgraded forecast for a 6.5% drop in sales for the full year compared to 2011’s total of just over 260,000 units.

Sales of light vans, medium vans and heavy vans all dropped in October but pick-ups bucked the trend with a rise of more than 18% to 2009 units.

Market leader Ford increased sales in October as did Peugeot but other main players, such as VW, Vauxhall, Mercedes, Citroen, Renault and Nissan saw volumes fall.