13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

10th month of growth for new car sales

New car sales were up 16.7% in May, with 145,204 registrations made during the month, the latest figures from the SMMT have shown.This was the 10th consecutive months of growth, and the longest period of uninterrupted growth since 2015.However, sales are still 21% below pre-pandemic 2019.

Petrol cars made up 57.1%, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) comprising 6.2% and hybrids (HEVs) 12.3%. EVs represented 16.9% of the May market. This is expected to climb once the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate is in place, which will set a BEV registration quota for every brand. This could be in place as early as January.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes 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.”

Charging remains a sticking point for many carbuyers as NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson observed: “Charging infrastructure across the UK remains the main issue on the showroom floor when Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) dealers are advising customers on their next choice of vehicle. NFDA is working closely with government and other automotive bodies to ensure that UK consumer’s concerns about EVs are being addressed and we are confident that our members will help the UK to achieve the transition.”

Mark Oakley, Director of AA Cars, commented: “June will see the end of an era as Ford ceases production of the Fiesta, one of the UK’s most popular vehicles and consistently one of the searched-for models on the AA Cars website. No doubt there will be some Ford fans desperate to get their hands on one of the last examples to roll off the production line.The curtain coming down on Fiesta production is a watershed moment and a sign of the steady transition to electric vehicles.”

Will it be that way though? LeaseLoco CEO John Wilmot has his doubts: “Many EVs are still too expensive, despite manufacturers cutting prices. Higher energy costs and substantially lower petrol and diesel prices since last summer means people aren’t as motivated to switch to reduce their running costs. And there are frequent stories of people having to queue for hours to charge their cars. Anxiety over charging is not the kind of publicity that is going to convince car owners, who are perhaps sitting on the fence right now, to make the switch. It’s not quite time to press the panic button just yet, but we’re getting closer to that point.”