05 Mar 2024

Fleet spending pushes new car sales up in November

Fleets were responsible for new car sales being up 9.5% year-on-year in November, according to the latest figures from the SMMT, with 156,525 sold in the month, making it just 0.1% below the rate seen in pre-pandemic November 2019.

Purchases by fleet buyers made up 59.4% of the market with 156,525 cars bought. Sales to private buyers fell 5.9%, with 60,506 leaving showrooms. Meanwhile business sales dropped 32.7% to 2,970.

Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales were up 27.8%, while plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) sales increased by 55.8%. Fleets also continued to transition to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), buoyed by compelling tax incentives. , 77.4% of the 24,359 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sold during November went to fleets and businesses. new BEVs reaching the road in November. Overall, BEV sales fell 17.1% during the month. At the same time, while diesel vehicle sales fell 16.8% to 4,663, petrol car sales has increased 7.4% to 61,875.

From January, 22% of each manufacturer’s new vehicle registrations must be zero emission, meaning that buyers may need to see inducements to get them into EVs.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “Britain’s new car market continues to recover, fuelled by fleets investing in the latest and greenest new vehicles. With car makers gearing up to meet their responsibilities under new market legislation, and COP28 currently underway, now is the time to take sensible steps that will multiply that economic growth and minimise carbon emissions. Private EV buyers need incentives in line with those that have so successfully driven business uptake – and workable trade rules that promote rather than penalise the transition.”

NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson observed: “At the Autumn Statement there was no mention of EV price incentives or any further clarity on EV charging infrastructure from the Chancellor. In a recent survey to members 50% of respondents identified that an introduction of private EV incentives would be most beneficial to them. NFDA urges Government to listen to the needs of consumers, and the sector, if we want private EV buyers to match fleet adoption.

“The fall in private electric vehicle sales for November is unsurprising with the upcoming ZEV mandate implementation set for January, although NFDA would argue that this is not a true reflection of the market and consumer demand for EVs remains strong. Manufacturers have crucial sales targets to reach from January 2024 and will be strategically planning for the mandate to come into effect; As the customer facing side to the industry, Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) dealers will continue to support consumers on their transition to electric through expert levels of knowledge and high levels of service.”

Mark Oakley, Director of AA Cars, added: “The new car market is navigating the tricky economic backdrop with all the skill of an experienced driver dodging the potholes and powering smoothly through the bends of a winding country road. The market’s incredible, uninterrupted run of rising sales has now extended into a 16th straight month, showing the strength not just of driver demand but also of supply, as manufacturers and dealers work together to keep up with customer orders.

“The figures are a striking reminder of Britons’ continued willingness to commit to big ticket purchases like a car, even as they cut back spending elsewhere. They come after ONS data showed that retail sales volumes fell by 1.1% in the three months to October. Meanwhile the number of new cars rolling off UK production lines in October was up 31.6% compared to the same month last year, confirming that the component shortages which held back supply in 2022 are firmly behind us.

“This free-flowing new car market is powering up used car sales too. For each driver replacing their current car with a brand-new model, another car makes its way onto a second-hand dealer’s forecourt. Many of these models will be nearly-new, offering fantastic value to drivers working within budget constraints. With inflation falling sharply and signs that interest rates may have peaked, a gradual easing of the pressure on personal finances should help the new car market continue its growth trajectory into the new year.”