UK new car market maintains momentum with tenth month of growth
The UK new car market has posted its longest uninterrupted period of expansion for eight years, as new registrations grew 16.7% in May to reach 145,204 units according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
May’s performance marks ten consecutive months of year-on-year growth, although registrations remain around a fifth below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Large fleet registrations continued to drive market growth in May, up by 36.9% to 76,207 units, reflecting the easing of supply constraints over the past year.
Registrations to private buyers fell slightly by 0.5% to 65,932 cars, while smaller business fleets registered 3,065 units, a year on year rise of 22.5%.
Petrol-powered cars remain Britain’s best sellers, accounting for 57.1% of all registrations. Alternatively powered vehicles, however, continued to make up an ever-larger share of the market, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rising 23.0% to reach a 6.2% market share and hybrids (HEVs) growing 22.2% to comprise 12.3% of all registrations.
Reflecting the dramatic transformation of the market over the last three years, May saw battery electric vehicles (BEVs) consolidate their position as the UK’s second most popular powertrain. A further 24,513 joined the road during the month, up 58.7% on May last year to secure a 16.9% market share.
Of the new cars registered in May, lower mediums, superminis and dual purpose were the most popular, comprising 86.3% of the market. The SMMT notes that there are now zero emission options available in every single segment of the market, with more than 80 models – around a quarter of all new car models available – from which to choose. Furthermore, these new BEVs have an average battery range of 236 miles, well in excess of UK drivers’ average weekly mileage of around 100 miles.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “After the difficult, Covid-constrained supply issues of the last few years, it’s good to see the new car market maintain its upward trend and the fact that growth is, increasingly, green growth is hugely encouraging.
“Transforming the market nationwide, however, and at an even greater pace means we must increase demand and help any reticent driver overcome any concerns about electric vehicles. This will require every stakeholder – industry, government, chargepoint operators and energy companies – to play their part, accelerating investment to drive decarbonisation.”
Recently released SMMT data on public charge points in Britain indicates that provision is falling behind rising numbers of electric vehicles.