The UK new car market grew for the seventh consecutive month in February, according to new figures out this week. The data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed new car registrations were up by more than a quarter last month, with plug-in cars driving the growth.

In total, more than 74,400 new cars were registered in February, representing an increase of 26.2 percent compared with the same month last year. That’s despite the fact February is normally a quiet month for the industry as dealers and customers gear up for the registration plate change on March 1.

Nevertheless, there was growth across the market, with deliveries to private buyers up 5.8 percent compared with last February, while those for large fleets were up by 46.2 percent. Business registrations also grew by just under one percent, although they still account for a very small proportion of all cars sold.

Mercedes-Benz Dealer

As expected, petrol cars accounted for the vast majority of those sold in the UK last month, with a market share of 56.9 percent. Diesel cars, however, made up 7.3 percent of all sales, with electric car sales up by 18 percent to take a 16.5-percent market share. Hybrids were the star performers, though, with sales of so-called ‘self-charging’ hybrids up 40 percent compared with February 2022, while plug-in hybrid sales rose by one percent.

Although the plug-in MG HS was a surprise top performer in the UK sales charts during January, February saw something of a return to normal service. The HS was nowhere to be seen in the top 10, with the Vauxhall Corsa cantering into top spot. Its sales eclipsed the second-placed Vauxhall Mokka by around 1,000 units, while the Ford Puma took third place.

The Ford Fiesta, which was once a perennial favourite but is soon to go out of production, also featured in the top 10, taking eighth spot, while the Tesla Model Y was the UK’s sixth most popular car. Thus far in 2023, the Corsa is reigning supreme in an SUV-heavy top 10, with the VW T-Roc and Nissan Qashqai following closely.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the outlook was more positive for the new car market, but the industry still needed support from the government to grow consistently.

“After seven months of growth, it is no surprise that the UK automotive sector is facing the future with growing confidence,” he said. “It is vital, however, that the government takes every opportunity to back the market, which plays a significant role in Britain’s economy and net zero ambition. As we move into ‘new plate month’ in March, with more of the latest high-tech cars available, the upcoming Budget must deliver measures that drive this transition, increasing affordability and ease of charging for all.”

Electric vehicle is charging in street