The UK new car market grew for the sixth month in a row in January, with new figures showing sales started the year strongly. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals registrations were up by almost 15 percent compared with the same month last year.

Last month, the SMMT figures show a total of 131,994 new cars hit the roads of the UK, up 14.7 percent compared with the same month in 2022. It’s the best start to the year since pre-Covid January 2020, when almost 150,000 new cars were registered during the first month.

As expected, petrol-powered vehicles were by far the most popular, making up almost six in every 10 new cars registered. The popularity of diesel cars continued to wane, with a market share of just under eight percent, but electric car sales grew by almost a fifth to claim just over 13 percent of the market. Hybrids remain more popular, however, taking more than 21 percent of the market.

2021 MG HS Plug-In

There were some more surprising results among the best-selling cars, however, although last year’s most popular model, the Nissan Qashqai, remained among the top performers. Top spot, though, was taken by the MG HS SUV, of which almost 3,500 examples were registered.

Other top sellers included the Volkswagen T-Roc, which took second place, and the Qashqai, which was the only other car to surpass 3,000 registrations for January. SUVs dominated the top 10, however, with the Vauxhall Corsa the only hatchback to make it into the top five behind the Kia Niro.

1. Vauxhall Corsa

Further down the list, the Kia Sportage, Ford Puma and Hyundai Tucson started 2023 where they left off in 2022, but the MG ZS was a surprise entry in eighth place. The Ford Fiesta, a car set to face the axe later this year, proved its enduring popularity by snatching 10th place in the standings with more than 2,000 examples registered.

“The automotive industry is already delivering growth that bucks the national trend and is poised, with the right framework, to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK economy,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The industry and market are in transition, but fragile due to a challenging economic outlook, rising living costs and consumer anxiety over new technology. We look to a Budget that will reaffirm the commitment to net zero and provide measures that drive green growth for the sector and the nation.”