23 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

January new car sales get electric boost

One in three new cars sold in January were electrified, and overall sales up 27.5% compared with the same month in 2021, according to the latest figures from the SMMT. However, with 115,087 units sold still representing a 22.9% reduction on pre-pandemic January 2020, the overall market is still underperforming, with ongoing chip shortages affecting supply.
Battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid (HEV) cars made up 71.5% of the increase in registrations. 14,433 BEVs and 9,047 PHEVs were registered, equating 20.4% of the total. 13,492 were HEVs also registered,

There are now more than 140 plug-in car models available to UK buyers, with almost 50 more scheduled for 2022. The latest market outlook forecasts registrations of BEVs and PHEVs to grow by 61% and 42% respectively in 2022. By the end of the year, almost one in four new cars would come with a plug. Overall, total new car registrations are expected to rise 15.2% on 2021, to 1.897 million units.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “Given the lockdown-impacted January 2021, this month’s figures were always going to be an improvement but it is still reassuring to see a strengthening market. Once again it is electrified vehicles that are driving the growth, despite the ongoing headwinds of chip shortages, rising inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze. 2022 is off to a reasonable start, however, and with around 50 new electrified models due for release this year, customers will have an ever greater choice, which can only be good for our shared environmental ambitions.”

According to James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, the supply constraints for new cars continue to make the second hand market look attractive: “While the pandemic’s cooling effect on demand has eased, supply problems continue to dog the industry. Dealers cannot complete sales when the vehicles simply aren’t there to be delivered.

“Such entrenched supply problems could take some time to improve. Official data shows that the number of new cars rolling off UK production lines has now fallen for two years in a row.
With car factories in other countries similarly hit by the global shortage of semiconductors, the supply of new vehicles for sale may lag behind buyer demand for much of 2022.

“That’s why thousands of would-be new car buyers have switched their focus to the second-hand market instead. The availability of used vehicles is holding up well.”