The new car market’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis has been set back by supply issues, according to a leading industry body. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said a global semiconductor shortage had stunted vehicle supply last month, but consumer confidence was “steady”.
With SMMT data showing more than 186,000 new cars were registered in the UK last month, the market was up 28 percent on the same period in 2020. However, that month saw showrooms reopen for the first time after the original coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020.
To gain a more accurate impression of the market, the SMMT has calculated a 10-year average number of registrations for every June from 2010 to 2019. Compared with that figure of 222,652, last month’s new registrations were down 16.4 percent. The SMMT says the result was partly down to the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, which “acted as a limiting factor on supply”.
Whatever the reasons, that result means registrations for the first six months of 2021 are 39.2 percent higher than during the first half of 2020. A total of 909,973 cars were registered between January 1 and the end of June, up from 653,502 last year.
But with the 2020 lockdown artificially inflating that figure, the 10-year average comparison is perhaps more representative. It makes gloomier reading, though. Between 2010 and 2019, an average of more than 1.24 million cars were registered during the first half of every year. This year’s figure is down by more than a quarter (26.8 percent) on that.
That said, there is growth among alternatively fuelled vehicles. Electric car registrations more than doubled last month compared with June 2020, and electric vehicles (EVs) made up more than 10 percent of the entire new car market. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up 8.7 and 6.5 percent of registrations respectively.
Over the first half of the year, EVs made up 8.1 percent of new car registrations, while hybrids made up exactly eight percent of the total and plug-in hybrids made up 6.4 percent. All three vehicle types have seen sales roughly double compared with the first six months of last year – although that period included a lengthy lockdown that saw sales almost wiped out.
“With the final phases of the UK’s vaccine rollout well underway and confidence increasing, the automotive sector is now battling against a ‘long Covid’ of vehicle supply challenges,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The semiconductor shortages arising from Covid-constrained output globally are affecting vehicle production, disrupting supply on certain models and restricting the automotive recovery.
“However, rebuilding for the next decade is now well underway with investment in local battery production beginning and a raft of new electrified models in showrooms. With the end of domestic restrictions later this month looking more likely, business and consumer optimism should improve further, fuelling increased spending, especially as the industry looks towards September and advanced orders for the next plate change.”