In April, new car registrations in the United Kingdom continued their upward trajectory for the 21st consecutive month, marking a modest 1.0 per cent increase to reach 134,274 units, according to the latest data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Despite this positive momentum, the market still lags behind pre-pandemic levels by 16.6 per cent, albeit showing resilience in what is traditionally a low-volume month post-March plate change.

Fleet registrations emerged as the primary driver of growth, soaring by 18.5 per cent to reach 81,207 units, representing over six in ten of all new cars registered in April. Conversely, private buyer uptake witnessed a dip of 17.7 per cent, with 50,458 units registered, while business registrations also declined by 16.1 per cent, totalling 2,609 units.

UK new car sales, April 2024

The Ford Puma returned to the top spot in April with 4,339 registrations, followed by the Volkswagen Polo (3,413) and Audi A4 (3,010). Since the beginning of the year, the Puma has been the best-selling model in the UK with 19,393 sales. The Nissan Qashqai – the model that occupied the charts last month – is second with 17,050 sales, followed by the Kia Sportage with 15,824 sales.

UK's best-selling models in April 2024

1. Ford Puma - 4,339

2. Volkswagen Polo - 3,413

3. Audi A3 - 3,010

4. Nissan Qashqai - 2,495

5. Volkswagen Golf - 2,361

6. Kia Sportage - 2,192

7. Volkswagen T-Roc - 2,162

8. MG HS - 2,073

9. Volvo XC40 - 2,069

10. Volkswagen Tiguan - 2,004

The surge in electrified vehicles remained a significant contributor to market expansion. Plug-in hybrids exhibited the strongest growth, climbing by 22.1 per cent and capturing a 7.8 per cent market share. Hybrids followed suit, experiencing a 16.7 per cent uptick and accounting for 13.1 per cent of demand. Notably, EV registrations witnessed a 10.7 per cent increase, driven primarily by compelling fiscal incentives for businesses, resulting in a market share rise to 16.9 per cent, up from 15.4 per cent in the previous April.

However, while the overall increase in EV demand is promising, concerns linger over private buyer enthusiasm. Less than one in six new electric vehicles purchased in April were by consumers, with uptake volumes plummeting by 21.9 per cent.

UK’s best-selling models year-to-date

1. Ford Puma - 19,393

2. Nissan Qashqai - 17,050

3. Kia Sportage - 15,824

4. Audi A3 - 13,503

5. Nissan Juke - 13,070

6. Volkswagen Golf - 12,651

7. BMW 1 Series - 12,210

8. MG HS - 12,101

9. Volkswagen T-Roc - 11,096

10. Mini - 11,067

“The new car market continues to grow even in the quieter months, driven primarily by fleet demand. This is particularly true of the electric vehicle sector, where the absence of government incentives for private buyers is having a marked effect. Although attractive deals on EVs are in place, manufacturers cannot fund the mass market transition single-handedly. Temporarily cutting VAT, treating EVs as fiscally mainstream not luxury vehicles, and taking steps to instil consumer confidence in the chargepoint network will drive the market growth on which Britain’s net zero ambition depends,” Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, commented.