MG Rover car sales have suffered a sharp fall in sales for the second month running, industry figures show.
MG Rover suffered a sharp drop in sales
In September, just 6,654 Rovers were sold - a fall of 35% on the same month in 2003 - and 4,914 MGs, a fall of 33%.
Overall, UK car sales fell 2% in September against a year ago with a total of 430,763 new cars registered,
However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which published the data, said demand for new cars "remains strong".
But SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said it was "inevitable that a plateau would be reached after three record years and it appears that further growth this year is unlikely".
"The impact of rising interest rates and the effect on consumer demand from a cooling housing market has, no doubt, accelerated the slowdown in the new car market in the last few months," he added.
The figures were a further blow for MG Rover which has suffered from falling sales in recent months - in August the firm sold just 922 cars in the UK.
Industry experts say Rover desperately needs to develop a new model to boost sales and revive the brand.
In 1999 - its last year under BMW ownership - the firm sold 110,000 cars which at the time was seen as a disastrous performance. Last year that figure dipped to just under 96,000.
TOP 10 CAR RESIGTRATIONS
Vauxhall Corsa - 18,339
Ford Focus - 17,898
Ford Fiesta - 17,022
Vauxhall Astra - 14,381
Peugeot 206 - 14,246
Renault Megane - 13,205
Renault Clio - 12,372
Ford Ka - 10,269
Volkswagen Golf - 10,001
BMW 3-Series - 9,872
Source: SMMT figures for September 2004
But Rover spokesman said the company was holding on to market share.
"While the figures for September sales are disappointing our year to date market share remains above 3%," he said.
"We continue to promote our latest 2004 model year Mg and Rover product ranges that attract good retail business.
"Sales do reflect very competitive market conditions and we believe the disappointiong sales reflect the competitive nature of the market currently."
Elsewhere, the SMMT report showed that the popularity of diesel cars continued to grow. Sales have risen every month for the past four years.
Diesel cars now hold a record 32.9% share of the market, the SMMT said.
Among individual models, the Vauxhall Corsa knocked the Ford Focus off its top-selling model spot for the second successive September, with 18,388 Corsa sales during the month compared to 17,898 Focus sales.
The Focus has so far topped the sales list in 51 of the past 53 months.