The UK new car market grew for the ninth month in a row during April, according new figures published this week. The data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows new car registrations were up by more than 10 percent last month, with sales expected to grow further a the year draws on.
The SMMT’s figures reveal the new car market grew by 11.6 percent overall in April, with almost 133,000 new car registered last month. That’s the best April performance for the market since 2021, but it remains more than 17 percent down compared with the registrations seen in pre-pandemic April 2019.
As usual, petrol vehicles accounted for the lion’s share of the market, with almost six in 10 new cars powered by unleaded. However, battery-electric vehicles (EVs) are now the second most popular type of car in the UK, accounting for 15.4 percent of the market in April.
Over the first four months of 2023, overall new car registrations are up by 16.9 percent compared with the same period in 2022. It’s an increase the SMMT says is partly down to the reduction in pressure on automotive supply chains, which were squeezed by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
However, the SMMT says demand for electric vehicles is expected to grow more slowly this year amid high energy costs and “insufficient” charging infrastructure. As a result, the organisation says it expects EVs to make up around 18.4 percent of the market in 2023 – down from the initial estimate of almost 20 percent. And in 2024, the SMMT has downgraded its outlook for EVs from 23.3 percent to 22.6 percent.
To reverse this slowdown in growth of zero-emission vehicles, the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes said the country would need support from government, energy companies and charging providers to boost consumer confidence in electric transport.
“The new car market is increasingly bullish, as easing supply chain pressures provide a much-needed boost,” he said. “However, the broader economic conditions and chargepoint anxiety are beginning to cast a cloud over the market’s eagerness to adopt zero emission mobility at the scale and pace needed. To ensure all drivers can benefit from electric vehicles, we need everyone – government, local authorities, energy companies and charging providers – to accelerate their investment in the transition and bolster consumer confidence in making the switch.”
Despite Hawes’ gloom, though, the Tesla Model Y is still one of the most popular cars in the UK thus far in 2023, albeit the only solely electric vehicle in the top 10. As has been the case so often in the past couple of years, the Vauxhall Corsa remains the UK’s best seller, followed by the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Puma.