Despite challenging economic times, new car sales continue to grow.
Despite cost of living challenges, the UK new car market grew 23.5% in November to 142,889 registered units for the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year growth, according to new figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The growth delivered the best total for November since 2019, with manufacturers continuing efforts to fulfil orders amid erratic global components supply. However, registrations in the month were still -8.8% below 2019 levels and, while further recovery is anticipated in 2023, global and domestic economic challenges mean that the market is likely to remain below pre-pandemic levels.
According to the SMMT, large fleets gave the market a boost, up 45.4% compared with November last year. Demand from private buyers also grew, albeit by a more modest 2.7%. Business registrations more than doubled, meanwhile, up 112.2%, but remain a small fraction of the overall market.
Zero emission vehicle uptake continues to grow, with newly registered battery electric vehicles (BEVs) up 35.2% to represent more than one in five new cars (20.6%) – the largest monthly share of BEVs this year. Conversely, plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) registrations fell by -5.7%, making up 7.1% of the market. As a result, some 39,558 new plug-ins were registered, representing more than one in four (27.7%) new cars joining UK roads in November. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), meanwhile, rose by 66.9% to 11.2% of the market, driven particularly by fleet operators looking for flexibility and emissions reductions.
The most in-demand supermini and lower medium vehicle segments both grew by 21.5% and 20.5% respectively in November, while dual purpose vehicles increased by 21.8%. There was significant growth in luxury saloon and multi-purpose vehicles, up 87.3% and 288.6%, but these segments still remain a small section of the market.
As growth returns to the new car market, the car sector is poised to deliver an additional £8 billion for the UK economy in 2023, with an anticipated 15.4% market growth. UK Automotive is making rapid strides to deliver on its net zero targets, and further acceleration requires forward-thinking planning and collaboration from all stakeholders. Measures that boost motorists’ confidence in EVs, including a fiscal framework that encourages EV adoption and targets to speed up the provision of charging infrastructure, will help to ensure uptake is in line with the UK’s green goals, particularly as the ambitious Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate comes into effect.