New car registrations in the UK rose by more than a quarter in October, according to new figures out this week. The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed registrations were up by 26.4 percent last month compared with the same month in 2021.

A total of 143,344 new cars were registered in the UK during October, up from 106,265 in the same month of 2021, with hybrid and electric vehicles leading the charge. However, the figures must be viewed in the context of a very weak October 2021 for the car market, with deliveries falling by 24.6 percent that month.

Even though registrations remained down on pre-pandemic levels, the SMMT said October’s return to form was “hugely welcome” for the car market, as chip shortages begin to ease and manufacturers are able to begin fulfilling their orders. The organisation also said the outlook for 2023 was improving and “recovery is possible”.

Mercedes-Benz Dealer

“A strong October is hugely welcome, albeit in comparison with a weak 2021, but it is still not enough to offset the damage done by the pandemic and subsequent supply shortages,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Next year’s outlook shows recovery is possible and electric vehicle growth looks set to continue.”

So far this year, the SMMT’s data shows registrations lag behind 2021 levels as a result of the ongoing supply shortages, but more than 1.34 million new cars have still found homes in the UK during the first 10 months of this year. That’s down 5.6 percent compared with 2021, when 1.42 million cars were registered in the same timeframe. Compared with pre-pandemic 2019, however, when more than two million new cars were registered between January and October, registrations are down by around a third.

New cars at dealer showroom

Even so, the SMMT says there’s grounds for optimism thanks to the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid cars. In October, just under 20,000 new electric cars were registered, up from around 16,000 in October last year – an increase of just under a quarter. And hybrid car sales were up by 81.7 percent to hit 15,712 in October. Plug-in hybrid sales also rose by a more modest 6.2 percent.

However, the SMMT warned that investment in infrastructure would be critical to keep attracting customers to electric vehicles.

“To achieve our shared net zero goals, growth must accelerate and consumers must be given every reason to invest,” said Hawes. “This means giving them the economic stability and confidence to make the switch, safe in the knowledge they will be able to charge – and charge affordably – when needed. The models are there, with more still to come; so must the public charge points.”